What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge, in principle, is like any other bridge that you see or drive across: the goal is to span a space with an anchor on either side. In the dental world, a bridge usually involves two teeth on either side of a space. The space can be due to a tooth that was extracted or one that was never formed. The teeth on either side of the space are prepared for crowns (the abutment/anchor teeth) and the missing tooth bridges the gap (the pontic tooth). The resulting restoration is one that is cemented onto the two anchor teeth and looks and functions like normal teeth as much as possible.
Goals of bridges:
- Remove any compromised tooth structure on the anchor teeth
- Replace missing teeth
- Restore proper chewing function
- Prevent shifting of adjacent or opposing teeth
If you and your dentist have decided a bridge is the right option for you, this will usually involve a two appointment process. On the first appointment, the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic. This is also the time that most of the “drilling” will occur. The anchor teeth are prepared to receive the appliance and an impression or mold is made of your teeth. A temporary appliance will be made for you and cemented into place. Next, the impression of your teeth is sent to a dental laboratory, who fabricates your final bridge out of the specified materials and using the proper shade. After two to three weeks, your bridge is ready to be cemented into place. On your second appointment, the temporary appliance is removed and the final bridge is fitted into place.
After your final bridge is cemented into place, you should be able to chew, function, and speak as normal. Your dental team will instruct you on how to properly care for your bridge so that you can enjoy it for a long time to come!