A bridge is dental restoration that is used to replace one or more missing teeth. A bridge connects the teeth on either side of the missing space together with one or more replacement teeth, called pontics. A bridge is cemented permanently to the supporting teeth, so it is a fixed restoration that is very stable and functional. The “bridge” term is sometimes confused with that of a partial denture, which is a different treatment entirely and is removable rather than fixed. Modern bridges are commonly made out of highly esthetic porcelain, but longer span bridges may have a layer of metal or gold hidden beneath the porcelain to give the bridge added strength.
What are the benefits of bridges?
Benefits of bridges as teeth replacement options include:
One great indication for a bridge is in the situation where one or more of the teeth that are planned to support the bridge would already benefit from a crown restoration. In this situation, not only are the teeth benefitting from the crown-like tooth coverage, but a replacement for a missing tooth is also provided all in the same restoration.
What are the disadvantages of bridges?
Since the replacement teeth are hovering over top of the gums rather than coming up naturally like a tooth or implant, they can be more prone to food or plaque getting caught beneath. For this reason, it is very important to maintain excellent oral hygiene around a bridge to prevent failure from decay or gum disease. Since bridges cannot be flossed in the normal method of running floss between the teeth, special floss threaders or small brushes are used to clean the supporting teeth. This can sometimes be tricky in the back areas of the mouth for patients with limited dexterity.
Also, since the teeth supporting the bridge need to be prepare for crowns, this would result in the removal of healthy tooth structure in situations where the supporting teeth are in great shape. In these situations, a dental implant may be the preferred option to replace the missing tooth in order to preserve healthy tooth structure. Please see our implants page for more information.
How is a bridge made?
The steps for making a bridge are very similar to that for a crown. First, the teeth on either side of the space are prepared in a similar manner to how teeth are shaped for crowns. An impression of the prepared teeth and bite are sent to a dental lab for fabrication of the bridge. The patient will then return for a second visit to try-in and permanently cement the final bridge.
How long do bridges last?
The longevity of a bridge depends on many factors, such as the health and bone support of the teeth holding up the bridge, the number of teeth being replaced, the patient’s bite, and the patient’s ability to maintain excellent oral hygiene and regular dental cleaning visits. Bridges commonly last between 5-15 years, but can last much longer than that if properly cared for. We have a number of patients in our practice who have had the same bridge restoration for many decades.
How do I know if a bridge is the best option for me?
Dr. Jason Doublestein, Dr. Michael Wierenga, and Dr. Katelyn Trierweiler along with our dedicated staff here at 44 West Dental Professionals are trained to consider each individual’s unique situation and are happy to discuss if a bridge is the right treatment option for you. Give us a call at (616) 530-2200 to set up a consultation today!