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Dental Bridges - A Place for Teeth to Cross Over

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Dental Bridges

If you are missing one or two teeth and are interested in prosthetic restoration treatment, read on, a dental bridge may be the right option for you!

What is a dental bridge?

It is one of the different treatment options available to replace missing teeth. Dental bridges are so called because they literally make a "bridge" that covers the edentulous (toothless) space.

The structure of the dental bridge is formed by a set of crowns that simulate the shape and function of the natural crowns of the teeth.

How many teeth can a dental bridge replace?

This type of dental prosthesis aims to replace 1 to 3 missing teeth that were originally located side by side in the dental arch.

Is the dental bridge removable?

The dental bridge is a type of fixed prosthesis since it is a structure that is cemented to the adjacent natural teeth, this is because it is supported by the healthy teeth that are next to the toothless gap.

To make possible the fixation of the bridge it is necessary to perform a reduction on the teeth on which it will be placed (abutment teeth), in this way there is enough space for the cement and a better gripping surface for its placement.

This lovely gentleman has two implants placed by Dr Carla to support 3 of his front teeth. The pontic tooth is the front right tooth, and is held up by the crowns on the two implants either side
The Pontic Tooth is the Front Right Tooth, and is Held Up by the Crowns on the Two Implants Either Side

Functions and advantages

✔The fact that it is a fixed structure is one of its advantages since this reduces the risk of detachment or loss of the prosthesis.

✔This fixed prosthesis favours the masticatory function since it allows the patient to chew without problems. It also favours the phonation of words.

✔It also increases self-esteem and confidence by improving the aesthetics of the smile.

It should be noted that when one or more teeth are missing this can cause neighbouring teeth to move or lean out of their natural space. This causes dental malposition and crowding.

On the other hand, this imbalance in the bite causes periodontal diseases which affects the gum, favours the accumulation of food debris and can trigger a temporomandibular joint disorder.

Parts of dental bridges

Abutment. As mentioned above, this is the tooth on which the dental bridge rests. There are usually 2 abutment teeth, one at each end of the prosthesis. The abutments must be vital and healthy teeth, i.e. there must be no cavities on their surface and the surrounding gum must not be affected by gingivitis.

In the case of a tooth that has undergone a root canal, there must be sufficient remaining tooth tissue to ensure the retention of the prosthesis, and the root canal must be in perfect condition. If there is insufficient tooth structure, the dentist must perform a reconstruction before the dental bridge procedure to ensure its stability and retention.

As mentioned, these abutment teeth must be prepared prior to receiving the prosthetic crowns, and it should be mentioned that this is one of the problems with the dental bridge as it substantially reduces part of the enamel, another reason why there must be sufficient tooth structure remaining.

Another of its functions is to support the loads received by the part of the bridge that corresponds to the missing teeth, that is, the pontics.

Pontics. This is the artificial tooth or teeth that will cover the edentulous space, thus replacing the missing teeth. A curious fact is that its name derives from the Latin pons, which means bridge. The pontic or pontics are placed between the abutments.

The Picture gives a good visualization representative  of the parts of a dental bridge. Two natural teeth are the abutment which supports the dental bridge. We then have 2 crowns attached, then the pontic or completely artificial bridge is in the middle to complete the structure
Two Crowns are used as Abutments showing the Pontic in the centre

Dental bridge types

Traditional dental bridges

These are indicated in cases where there are healthy natural teeth on both sides of the gap left by the missing tooth. The traditional dental bridge basically has the characteristics already mentioned:

-A crown is cemented on each abutment tooth and in the central part of the structure is the crown that replaces the lost tooth (pontic).

-They are made up of one or more pontics (artificial teeth).

The disadvantage of this prosthesis is that the dentist must reduce and prepare the enamel of the abutment teeth to make space for the crowns to be cemented on them, which makes it an invasive treatment. And since enamel does not regenerate, these teeth will always have to be protected by a crown.

Cantilever dental bridge

Unlike the traditional bridge, in the Cantilever bridge the abutment is located on only one side of the pontic, so there is only one abutment tooth. As in the traditional, the abutment tooth must be prepared to provide space for cementing the crown that will support the bridge.

The disadvantage of this prosthesis is that, since the pontic is only attached to the abutment on one side instead of both, this can cause fracture of the tooth or detachment of the crown.

Maryland bridges

They are formed by a pontic that is fixed to the posterior faces of the two abutment teeth by means of metal or ceramic "wings". This bridge is more conservative than the traditional one since it is not fixed by means of a crown, so it is not necessary to prepare the abutment.

Its disadvantage is that it may not be well fixed in those teeth that must make a lot of force when biting, as is the case of molars, so it is preferable to perform it to replace premolars or in the case of a dental bridge in front teeth.

Dental implant-supported bridges

The dental bridge with implants is a very comfortable and safe option for the patient, as it is well supported and the likelihood of loosening is low. In some cases, an implant is positioned in the place of each missing tooth, and it is this series of implants that holds the bridge in place.

However, they are also a viable alternative in those cases where it is not possible to put an implant in the place of each missing tooth, since in this situation the bridge would be formed by a pontic that is suspended between two crowns that are supported by implants.

the picture shows a visualisational representation of a dental implant supported bridge. The 2 implants are shown on the edges which support a pontic in the middle
visualisation of a dental implant supported bridge

Can a dental bridge be permanent?

Its duration time is quite variable from one person to another, depending on certain factors such as: the type of tooth used as an abutment, the quality and quantity of the abutment tooth structure, the patient's oral hygiene and whether or not the patient attends maintenance appointments with the dentist.

Therefore, if periodontal disease develops in the gum surrounding the abutment teeth or the abutment teeth develop tooth decay, detachment of the fixed bridge may occur. Thus, with proper care, a bridge can last approximately 10 to 15 years.

Maintenance and care for dental bridge

In order for the dental bridge to remain as long as possible in the mouth in good condition and fulfilling its functions correctly, it is necessary to maintain an adequate oral hygiene routine, brushing after every meal and before sleeping to eliminate dental plaque and food debris that may accumulate in the area where the bridge meets the abutment tooth.

It is also very important to have regular check-ups with the dentist for a complete dental evaluation and cleaning. The frequency of these visits will be indicated by the professional.

Dental bridges are a good prosthetic option that offers strength, durability, promotes chewing function, improves oral aesthetics and maintains a good appearance over time when properly cared for by the patient.

In addition, they are a good alternative to other more expensive restoration treatments such as dental implants.

There are many dental clinics in Perth that can provide dental bridges. If you think this is the right treatment for you and now you are wondering what is the best type of dental bridge for your situation, call or book online with the oral health professionals at Dentista Dental Centre, a dental clinic servicing the Morley and Noranda suburbs of Perth, WA. Don't wait any longer and come in for a consultation.

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