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Dental bridges are a tooth replacement option for people who have one to three missing teeth. Bridges can be removable or fixed, which means they are cemented to the other teeth. In some cases, bridges are an ideal solution to replace missing teeth. While they do not provide permanent fusion to your jawbones like implants, they are economical and do not need to be removed and cleaned like dentures.
A dental bridge literally bridges the gap between two teeth. If you have one missing tooth, the bridge consists of an artificial tooth called a pontic that sits in between two crowns. The crowns fit over your two teeth on either side of the gap where you have a missing tooth. These two teeth, which are called the abutment teeth, must be prepared by being reduced so that the crowns can fit on top of them. They secure the pontic in the middle, and the bridge is fixed in place by cement.
Another type of bridge called a cantilever bridge is sometimes used when you have natural teeth only on one side of a missing tooth. These bridges are not often used and can put too much pressure on the teeth that are used to support them, which can result in damage. In cases where teeth are missing in the back of the mouth, or when more than three teeth are missing, partial dentures are often recommended instead of a bridge.
Bridges are usually made of porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. The process of getting a bridge usually involves a few office visits. On the first, the abutment teeth are prepared and impressions of your teeth are made. Your bridge will be made in a dental lab based on these impressions. At the first visit you may get a temporary bridge to wear until your bridge is ready. At the next appointment your bridge will be placed. A permanent bridge will be cemented into place after a few more appointments to check the fit and make any necessary adjustments.
It is important to replace missing teeth to keep your other teeth from shifting and to prevent bacteria from collecting in open spaces in your mouth. Missing teeth can also cause chewing problems and lead to jaw pain. Bridges are a solution for missing teeth that works for many people. A bridge can least for 15 years or more, and can be cared for by brushing and flossing as if they are real teeth. If you would like to learn more about bridges and see if a bridge may be right for you, call us for an appointment.