What is a bridge?
A bridge is a type of dental restoration designed to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It is usually made of porcelain bonded to a metal substructure, but it can sometimes be made of acrylic or metal.
What is it used for?
The function of a bridge is to replace missing teeth. It also serves to prevent adjacent teeth from tipping or drifting into the empty space. A bridge helps to improve chewing function by distributing the forces involved in chewing to more teeth. Support of the adjacent teeth can be improved in the same manner as a crown. The alternative to a bridge is a dental implant.
How is it done?
The teeth adjacent to the empty space are shaped or filed down to resemble pegs. A “Maryland Bridge” can sometimes be recommended. This bridge is more conservative and does not require as much shaping. An impression is made of the prepared teeth, and sent to a dental laboratory where plaster replicas of the teeth and gums are made. The permanent bridge is then fabricated and returned to our office approximately one to two weeks later. After the impression, temporary crowns or a temporary bridge is made of acrylic and cemented. At the next appointment, the permanent bridge is cemented.
How long does it last?
We expect a bridge to last over 15 years. However, its longevity depends on the original condition of the teeth and gums, oral hygiene, possible clenching or grinding, and the types of foods that are routinely eaten.