What Are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge is a long-term replacement for spaces between teeth as the result of tooth loss. The teeth on both sides of the gap are prepared to support a framework on which new teeth are mounted. This is then fixed in position using a special cement and does not need to be removed at night, unlike removable dentures.
Dental bridges are also more stable, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than dentures. Bridges can be used on natural teeth or dental implants. Bridges last on an average between 7-10 years though some may last for up to 15 years or more.
When do we need Dental Bridges
By replacing missing teeth, dental bridges restore your chewing ability allowing you to have a better choice of foods and is important for both nutrition and digestion. It also helps to improve your smile by eliminating unsightly gaps and also by providing lip support to restore your facial contours, profile and proportion, thus contributing to self esteem and confidence.
They also prevent teeth from drifting which would have led to changes in the position and alignment of your teeth. It is also important in speech as gaps, spaces or unstable dentures will lead to lisping as we speak.
Types of Dental Bridges
02. All-porcelain and Zirconia Bridges
All-porcelain and zirconia bridges are similar to traditional bridges in terms of basic design and function and have largely superceded the popularity of traditional metal-based bridges due to the improved aesthetics. They are both strong biomaterials which look natural and feel almost like your own teeth. Between the 2, porcelain has better aesthetics while zirconia is preferred for its strength. In addition, they can now be made using 3D computer technology resulting in a better fit and with far shorter laboratory processing and waiting time.
03. Adhesive Bridges
In some cases, we may be unable to opt for conventional bridges. Adhesive or "Maryland" bridges is a good short to medium term solution for missing teeth. It utilises the two teeth next to the gap for support but instead of preparing the teeth fully, only the back surfaces are roughened or very lightly trimmed to accommodate "wings" or small extensions. While it is a more conservative option than conventional bridges which require the trimming of adjacent teeth, it may sometimes dislodge and is not a good long-term replacement for missing teeth.
04. Implant Bridges
If only one tooth is missing, an implant can be used as a stand-alone solution instead of making a bridge thus avoiding trimming the two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. Additionally when many teeth are missing, implants can be used to span the gap and support a bridge instead of individually replacing every tooth lost with an implant. This reduces the cost and is also the option if insufficient bone is available. In short an implant bridge is similar to a traditional bridge except that it rests on titanium "roots" instead of natural teeth. 5 to 8 implants alone.
01. Traditional Bridges
As the name implies, a dental bridge is used to close a gap caused by missing teeth. If the span is not too wide, and you have 1 or 2 strong teeth on each side, the teeth can be prepared by removing its outer layer and replacing it with a framework made of metal for support. This is then usually overlaid with a layer of porcelain for better aesthetics. Sometimes, if the gap is very small, we may only need to prepare the tooth on one side, in which case the bridge is called a Cantilever bridge. These are however less stable than conventional bridges.