A bridge is a device used to fill the space where a tooth has fallen out or been removed. A typical bridge consists of a pontic (a filler tooth) that is attached to two surrounding crowns (abutments). Once complete, this bridge structure is bonded into the mouth. Without the use of a bridge, spaces in the mouth from missing teeth can cause multiple teeth to shift, lead to occlusion (biting) and/or jaw problems, and may spur periodontal disease. Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.
Bridges usually require two trips to the dentist. During the initial visit, the surrounding teeth are numbed with a local anaesthetic. The dentist prepares the surrounding teeth by cleaning any plaque or decay that remains and reducing them so that the crowns can be fitted. The dentist makes a mould of the teeth and sends it off to a dental lab where the customised impression is prepared. The customized mould takes one to two weeks to return to the office. In the interim, patients are fitted with a temporary bridge constructed of acrylic resin. When the patient returns to the dental surgery, the dentist removes the temporary bridge and replaces it with the permanent one. The dentist then adjusts the bridge for the proper bite and fit, and the bridge is permanently cemented into the mouth.
Types of Bridges
There are several different types of bridges. The first is a fixed bridge, which consists of a filler tooth (referred to as a pontic) that is attached to two crowns. The crowns fit over the existing teeth to hold the bridge in place. The fixed bridge is the most popular bridge.
Another bridge design is a composite bond, known as a “Maryland” bridge. This type of bridge is commonly used to replace the front teeth. The pontic is attached to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth and the metal bands are hidden with a white-colored composite resin.