What is a bridge?
Dental bridges are a lot like crowns but the way that they differ is that they involve multiple teeth. Bridges live up to their name since they can replace 1 or 2 missing teeth by creating a bridge from one tooth to another, crowning each tooth on each side of the bridge. The tooth that fills in the gap or missing space is called a pontic tooth.
Bridges are fixed, or permanent, appliances and stay in your mouth which means you don't have to worry about taking them in or out at night or while you eat. Generally bridges need to be replaced every 5-15 years but the lifespan can vary depending on oral health and tooth health.
Why do I need a bridge?
Here is a comprehensive list of why you may nee a bridge.
Replace a missing tooth
Restore chewing function
Restore speaking functions
Maintain proper form for your bite
Maintain proper form of your face (can reduce a "sunken in" facial appearance)
What are bridges made out of?
Bridges can be made from different types of materials: gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials.
Gold (gold alloy crowns) (see below image 1:2) contain gold, copper and other metals and provide great strength while being highly resistant against wear. These crowns are biocompatible to gum tissue and are very gentle against opposing teeth. Gold crowns are said to be the "golden standard" of crowns. The color of these crowns are gold and are good choices for posterior or back teeth.
Silver (base metal alloy crowns) (see below image 1:3) are highly resistant to corrosion and provides the tooth with a lot of strength. The material is durable in that it is resistant to wear and it is gentle enough with tooth wear against opposing teeth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal bridges are hybrids, consisting of both metal and porcelain. The porcelain encases the metal so the overall color of the crown is white but with a thin lining of metal that exists just above the gum line and barely visible. The metal underneath the porcelain allows for a better seal in order to prevent any leakage into the tooth and also gives the crown it's strength. However, sometimes the metal that is underneath the porcelain cap can shine through making these still a good option for front teeth but less than ideal. Porcelain-fused to metal crowns are overall white in color and can be shade matched to match the color of your teeth. These crowns are good choices for both anterior (front teeth) and posterior teeth (back teeth).
All-ceramic or all-porcelain (see below image 1:1) dental bridges provide the most ideal color match to your teeth. They are also used for patients who have a metal or nickel allergy. These crowns are highly resistant to wear and are excellent choices for both front and back teeth.
Bruxzir dental bridges are made out of a material called zirconia. They are known for their high flexural strength and high fracture toughness. These crowns are excellent choices for patients suffering from clenching or grinding habits (bruxism) since they are highly resistant to breaking under pressure. Bruxzir crowns are known for their color and translucency, making them good choices for front and back teeth.
What is the procedure like?
Bridges are made in generally 2 office visits. The first appointment takes approximately 2 hours while the second is much shorter-about 30 minutes. During the first appointment, the assistant will take impressions of your teeth, color match your bridge to your teeth and apply a numbing jelly. The dentist will the anesthetize your teeth with local anesthetic and prepare the teeth for crowns. After the teeth are isolated another impression will be taken and then your dental assistant will be ready to fabricate your temporary bridge for you! The permanent bridge will be fabricated in a lab. At your second appointment, your temporary bridge will be removed and your permanent bridge will be tried-in and adjusted if necessary.
How do I clean underneath a bridge?
You should care for your bridge just as you would any of your natural teeth. Brushing should be done twice a day and flossing should be done at least once a day. Floss should be used daily and should be used around the bridge and under the pontic or fake tooth to prevent any plaque from accumulating. A dental floss threader or floss can be used to clean underneath the pontic tooth by a forward and backward sweep. If you are having trouble flossing, just ask our dental team and we'd be more than happy to show you!
What is the difference of an implant bridge and a traditional bridge?