When you have a gap from a missing tooth, it can be difficult to eat, drink, and speak. Bridges are put in place to fill gaps with a porcelain tooth, returning your bite to normal and allowing you to speak clearly again.
Bridges literally bridge the gap left by a missing tooth. When a tooth is knocked out or lost to decay, it will leave a gap in the mouth. This can actually change the appearance of your mouth as well as reducing functionality of eating, drinking, and enunciating words. A bridge will fill this gap by capping the two adjacent teeth and placing a pontic (false tooth) in the gap itself.
Types of Bridges
- Traditional bridges are those that sit between two teeth adjacent to a gap. The adjacent teeth are filed down and subsequently capped. Between these caps is the pontic, a porcelain tooth fused to a metal or ceramic structure. The structure spans the pontic and two caps. These are the most common types of bridges used.
- Cantilever bridges are used in the instances where there is only one adjacent tooth next to the gap. These bridges are not very common and are generally not recommended for the back of the mouth, as chewing forces there are more likely to break the bridge.
- Resin bonded bridges, also known as Maryland bridges, don’t require filing and capping adjacent teeth. Instead, the pontic has a porcelain or metal framework supporting a porcelain, metal, or plastic tooth that is bonded to adjacent teeth with a resin.
On your first visit to get a bridge, your teeth adjacent to the gap will be prepared by being filed down so that a crown can be placed over them. A cast will then be made of your mouth in order for a dental lab to create the bridge; in the meantime, you will be given a temporary bridge that will protect the teeth and gums, and sent home until your permanent bridge is completed.
Once the lab creates the permanent bridge and our office receives it, you will return back to our dental office for a follow-up visit to receive your new bridge. The new bridge will be adjusted as necessary to secure a proper fit. You may need to return for a couple more follow-ups to ensure the framework is secure and your bite is normal. Once everything is securely placed, the bridge will be cemented into place.
Benefits and Care
A dental bridge will usually restore normal eating abilities, allowing you to bite and chew your food like you did before needing a bridge. It will also restore a more normal speech pattern, because missing teeth means that more air escapes when speaking, which can change the sound of words. Closing these gaps up in a way that mimics the natural alignment of teeth will restore speech to normal.
Proper hygiene and regular cleanings will prolong the life of a dental bridge. Most bridges last about a decade, but with proper care can last beyond 15 years.