If you have one or more missing teeth, there are a variety of options available to fill in the gap and restore your mouth to full function. One of these options is a dental bridge.
What Is a Bridge?
A dental bridge is a permanent prosthetic device, comprised of two or more crowns that hold a false tooth (or teeth) in between. These false teeth, which are called pontics, are made of a variety of materials including gold, metal alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these. The crowns fit over your natural teeth, known as the abutment teeth, and these abutment teeth serve as anchors to keep the bridge in place.
Installing a Bridge
The process of installing a bridge typically involves two or three visits to the dentist.
First, your dentist will shave down the abutment teeth so the crown or bridge attains a proper fit. Next, an impression will be made of your mouth to provide a mold for the new bridge. At this point, your dentist may also select a color shade for the bridge, so that it matches your other teeth.
The impression of your mouth will be sent to a dental lab, and a dental technician will construct a bridge according to the mold and other directions provided by your dentist. (You will receive a temporary bridge to use until your permanent one is ready.) Once finished, your dentist will replace the temporary bridge with the permanent one, fixing it with a special type of cement.
Is It Really Permanent?
With proper care, a permanent bridge should last between 5 and 15 years – and even longer.
To ensure that you maximize the life of your dental bridge, you should maintain a good routine of oral hygiene, including regular flossing and brushing. You should also make sure to see your dentist regularly. Doing so will help you to avoid dental disease, which will affect the abutment teeth and the bone holding these teeth in place, thereby extending the life of the bridge.
Additionally, you should avoid chewing on ice, hard candy, or other foods that have potential to damage the bridge.
Follow these suggestions, and your dental bridge will deliver optimal performance and last for many years to come.