Many people worry about the appearance of their teeth, and having missing teeth can greatly affect their self esteem and confidence. Having missing teeth can also put more strain on the teeth either side of the gap and cause them problems.
Having a bridge fitted can alleviate these problems considerably, restoring the appearance of the teeth and in turn giving the patient back their self esteem and confidence to smile again.
Bridges are fitted where the gap is one to three teeth wide. This is dependent on the health of the teeth and gums that would be used to hold the bridge in place.
If the teeth have recently been removed, a permanent bridge shouldn’t be fitted until the bone has completely healed this can take between 2 – 4 months depending on the individual healing process. During the healing process it may be necessary to have a temporary denture placed or if possible a temporary bridge.
The materials used to make bridges are:
- Porcelain bonded to metal, these give a natural appearance and are good for teeth heavily filled with amalgam and are ideal for use on the back teeth as they are able to withstand the force applied to molar teeth for chewing. They have a metal base and layers of porcelain on top.
- All ceramic bridges are a newer material used for the construction of bridges. They are just as strong as a porcelain bonded bridge but look more natural as they mimic the appearance of enamel almost exactly. These are suitable for use anywhere in the mouth. The tooth needs less preparation than the porcelain bonded to metal bridges.
The preparation of the teeth that will hold the bridge in place is exactly the same as for a crown, most of the outer structure of the tooth will be removed leaving the core. The bridge will copy the original size of the tooth. The dentist will then take an impression or mould of the prepared tooth, and one of the opposing arch so the correct bite can be applied to the bridge. The information and shade will be given to the technician for them to make the bridge.
As with any work constructed at the laboratory, the patient and dentist must be happy with the appearance of the bridge before it is fitted permanently to the prepared teeth.
The bridge and under the false teeth need to be cleaned every day, this will prevent any gum problems such as gingivitis, it will also will prevent bad breath. Cleaning around the teeth that are supporting the bridge will also prevent the possibility of decay starting under the bridge on the roots of the teeth. The dentist will refer you to the hygienist to teach you how to clean around the bridge effectively to prevent the above problems. Any hygiene aids required for maintaining the bridge such as bridge floss or interdental brushes will be recommended at this time.
The expectant life of a bridge is dependent on the health of the teeth holding it, and the general hygiene of the gums, these can vary from patient to patient, but as long as the bridge, teeth and gums are cared for it should last a long time!
Costs will vary according to the type of material used. It is advisable to get a written estimate and treatment plan before beginning any dental treatment.