Traditional bridges are used if there are natural teeth on each side of the gap where the tooth is missing. (As an alternative to a bridge, your dental practitioner may suggest a single implant to replace a missing tooth between two healthy teeth. An implant will prevent you from having to get your healthy teeth filed down in preparation for the crowns.)
The Dental Bridge Procedure
1. If you have healthy teeth on each side of a missing tooth (or teeth), your dental practitioner files down the two healthy teeth to prepare them for the bridge. If you don’t have healthy teeth or enough teeth to support a bridge, then dental implants may be surgically placed. A dental implant is an artificial root made of titanium metal that is inserted into the jawbone to replace the root of the natural tooth. The implant acts as an anchor to hold an artificial tooth or bridge in place.
2. Next, your dental practitioner makes a model of your teeth by taking impressions (molds). The model is used to custom-make the artificial tooth (or teeth) and 2 crowns as one piece. This piece is called a bridge.
3. Meanwhile your dental practitioner places a temporary bridge in your mouth to protect the exposed teeth and gums.
4. During your second visit, your dental practitioner removes the temporary bridge and places the custom-made bridge in your mouth. The crowns are either cemented to your 2 healthy teeth or attached to your dental implants on each side of the missing tooth (or teeth).
How long do dental bridges last?
You need to look after dental bridges with the same level of care and attention as your natural teeth. Providing you maintain a good oral hygiene program, good diet and attend regular dental check-ups, a high quality dental bridge can last 10-15 years or longer.
Reasons for a fixed bridge, including:
• Fill space of missing teeth
• Maintain facial shape
• Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
• Restore chewing and speaking ability
• Restore your smile
• Upgrade from a removable partial denture to a permanent dental appliance