Dental bridges are appliances that “bridge” the gap created by one or more missing teeth. They are made up of one or more crowns for the teeth adjacent to the gap, along with a false tooth or teeth attached. These anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth and the false teeth are called pontics. The latter can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, zirconia or a combination of these materials. The result is a dentition that is fully restored in terms of function and appearance.
Four main types of dental bridge are available as a means of tooth replacement.
Conventional bridges are used when there are natural teeth present on both sides of the gap created by the missing tooth. They involve reshaping the teeth on either side of the gap to make room for cementing crowns on them, with a pontic in between to replace the missing tooth.
Cantilever bridges are used when there is an adjacent tooth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. The pontic is supported on only one side, rather than on both sides, by one or two crowned abutments (depending on how much support is required/the length of the bridge). Since this type of bridge is supported on only one side, it may act as a lever leading to complications such as fractured teeth or loosened crowns. The risk is high at the back of the mouth due to strong molar biting forces that can weaken the bridge.
Maryland bridges (resin-bonded bridges) are considered a conservative alternative to traditional bridges. These bridges consist of a single pontic that is held in place by a metal or porcelain framework (wing). This framework is bonded onto the back of the tooth adjacent to the missing tooth with composite resin cement. Minimal alteration of the adjacent tooth is required – your dentist will need to remove only a very small amount of tooth from the back surfaces of these teeth to make room for the wing. The strength of the bridge is limited by the strength of the resin that holds it in place, so it may dislodge if used in the molar areas.
How is a Crown Placed?
The placement of a crown is a precision procedure. Several steps are involved, and at least two dental visits usually are necessary for completion. The dentist will prepare the tooth by removing its outer portion to accommodate the thickness of the crown. If the tooth has a filling, part of the material may be left in place to serve as a foundation for the crown. An impression is made to provide an exact model of the prepared tooth. Your dentist or a dental laboratory technician, following the written instruction of the dentist, will then make the crown from the model.
“Temporary” crowns are placed while the permanent crown is made. If the shapes or lengths of your teeth are changed for cosmetic purposes, temporary crowns will allow you to become accustomed to these changes. Temporary crowns can also help you decide if you like what you see or if there are any changes you would like made before the finished crowns are placed. When the finished crown is ready, the dentist puts it in place and makes necessary adjustments. To see how your crown will look, you can use a large mirror held at arms’ length in various types of lighting. When you and your dentist are satisfied with its appearance, the crown will be cemented in place.
How is a Bridge Placed?
A fixed bridge is commonly cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing teeth. A false tooth (called a pontic) replaces the lost tooth. A pontic is attached to a crown (restoration that covers a tooth). Crowns, which are cemented on natural teeth, serve as abutments that provide support for the bridge.
How do I Take Care of My Crowns / Bridge?
When you have crowns/bridge, it is especially important to brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss or other interdental cleaners. Brushing and flossing remove a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Be sure to remove plaque from the area where the gum meets the tooth (the sulcus). When plaque accumulates in the sulcus, it can cause dental decay or gum disease. To prevent damaging or fracturing the crowns/bridge, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly.
Cosmetic Dentistry Services We Offer
- Implant Crowns
- Teeth Whitening
- Zoom! In Office Whitening
- Porcelain Veneers
- Porcelain Crowns, Inlays & Onlays
- Porcelain Fixed Bridges