What is a bridge?
Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
A bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap -- these two or more anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth -- and a false tooth/teeth in between. These false teeth are called pontics. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
Why should I replace missing teeth?
Appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain is put on the remaining teeth on either side. A gap can also mean that your bite is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can lead to food getting packed into the gap, which can cause both decay and gum disease.
Why is a bridge used?
A bridge is usually used when there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth. They are only possible if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base for strength. There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of strong porcelain, known as emax or zirconia
What will a bridge cost?
Costs will vary according to the size and type of bridge that you need. Although a bridge may seem expensive, it should last many years.
Can I have a bridge fitted straight after having a tooth removed?
In many cases it can take up to 6 months for the gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means that you may need to have a temporary denture for 6 months before the bridge is fitted.
How do I look after my bridge?
You will need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.
Are there other methods for fixing false teeth?
There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dentist about them.
Can I have teeth which attach to the jawbone?
Yes, by having implants. The success of this technique means you may be able to replace missing teeth without crowning other teeth. For more information see our leaflet ‘A guide to Dental Implants’.
Remember that it is as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.
When a tooth or teeth are lost and not replaced, your teeth can drift from their correct position. This drifting can cause many undesirable consequences such as jaw pain and headaches from malocclusion (a bad bite alignment). Drifting of teeth can make certain areas more susceptible to decay. Problems with the supporting structures of your teeth (gum and bone) can arise from the shifting of teeth as they try to fill a vacant area.
In order to prevent the drifting of teeth, a fixed bridge may be recommended. This will return your masticatory (chewing) system to a full complement of teeth. The teeth can then support each other and function beautifully together.
The loss of a single tooth can have a major impact on your dental health and personal appearance. Your teeth support and rely on each other. When one or more teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can shift out of their normal position. Teeth adjacent to the space or from the opposite jaw will often drift or tilt. These teeth are often more susceptible to decay and gum disease because they are more difficult to clean around. All of this shifting and drifting will lead to changes in the bite, which may put stress on the jaws, muscles and teeth. Ultimately, your ability to chew comfortably and your appearance may be affected.
If tooth loss occurs, your dentist may recommend that a bridge be placed. Broadly speaking a bridge can take one of two forms:
Please feel free to ask one of our dentists for advice as to which type would be suitable for you.