Bridges are one of three restorative options to replacing a tooth. They are generally becoming less popular with the arrival of implants and modern denture materials but are still suitable options in the right cases. They consist of two parts; the abutment (the part that sticks to the tooth) and the pontic (the false tooth that fits into the gap of the missing tooth).

Bridges are custom made for each tooth they are placed on. No two bridges are the same. They are normally cast or milled to the specific shape required at a dental laboratory. Typically there are two stages to the fabrication of a bridge.

The first stage is to prepare the tooth or teeth adjacent to the missing tooth for the bridge. This will involve the numbing and removing of surface tooth tissue and any decay present if considering a conventional bridge. An impression of the teeth required to support the bridge is taken and a temporary cover is placed in the case of the conventional bridge.

The second stage takes place a week later and involves (numbing the area to remove the temporary cover/s in the case of the conventional bridge) try-in to check the fit colour and shape of the bridge prior to cementation.

The bridge material is stronger than any filling material however, it is never a durable as a healthy tooth. The strength of the bridge comes from the strength of the supporting teeth and their anchorage. Loads are increased on the supporting teeth and this can effect their life span. The longevity of a bridge is not as good as a natural healthy tooth. Bridges come in a range of materials, gold, porcelain and zirconia. Your dentist is the best person to discuss the suitability of each material.

Types of Bridge

Generally, there are two types of bridge…

1. The Adhesive bridge

The adhesive bridge became possible with the improvement of adhesive technology in dental bonding. It consists of a wing or wings which are cemented onto the tooth or teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. There is minimal to no preparation of the supporting tooth but the bridge is only as strong as the bond that is applied Debonding can occur and the bridge will have to be sent away for special cleaning and bonding. The tooth that the bridge is using will need to be debrided of the old bond but this is never as successful as the first application. This is why successive recementations are not as successful as the original placement. It is for this reason that we recommend that anyone wanting such a bridge, has a denture constructed in case of debonding.

2. Conventional bridges

Convential bridges adhere more to the supporting tooth because they encase the tooth. This comes at a cost though as tooth tissue must be removed to allow the bridge to be placed, meaning that a strong supporting tooth is weakened slightly by removing its outer surface. It is for this reason that they are being used less but in certain cases are still a sensible option.

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