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 prevent teeth from drifting, restore chewing and speaking ability, and improve your smile. They also help provide lip support and restore your facial contours and profile. 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
If you have lost teeth either through decay or an injury,
it may affect you several ways, including:
affecting your facial appearance, smile and confidence
prevent you from chewing and enjoying food
impacting the way your speak and sound
changes to the position and alignment of your teeth
Types of Dental 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.
All-porcelain and Zirconia Bridges
Similar to traditional bridges in terms of basic design, porcelain and zirconia have replaced metal-based bridges. They are strong yet look natural and feel almost like your own teeth. 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.
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. It is a more conservative option, though it may sometimes dislodge and is not a good long-term replacement for missing teeth.
If only one tooth is missing, an implant can be a stand alone solution instead of making a bridge. 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