A bridge is a laboratory-constructed fixed appliance replacing one or more missing teeth by attaching it to the adjacent standing teeth. The bridge usually occupies no more space than the original dentition.
When are bridges used?
- Improve appearance.
- Improve function / masticatory efficiency.
- Prevent adjacent teeth from drifting and tilting, and the opposing tooth from overerupting.
- Prevent food impaction which can result in gum disease and future tooth loss.
- Improve speech
There are several types of bridges.
- Conventional Bridge can be constructed from metal, porcelain, or a combination of the two. These bridges involve removing tooth tissue, or a previous restoration and replacing it with a crown or inlay. This may be destructive of tooth tissue and can be time consuming.
- Minimal Preparation Bridge can be used in certain circumstances as an excellent alternative, as it involves attaching the artificial tooth or teeth via a metal plate to the minimally prepared inner surface of adjacent teeth. These can only be used when the adjacent teeth have sufficient intact enamel and when the occlusion (bite) is favourable. Minimal preparation bridges also have a slightly increased tendency of decementing.
- Implant supported bridge. In many situations, a dental implant can support more than one tooth unit. In this case, the bridge is either cemented or screwed to the implants below. The number of implants needed to support the bridge depends on many factors.
There are always many alternatives to restore a missing tooth or teeth. The advantages and disadvantages of the varying options are explained to our patients who are always part of the treatment planning process