Like dental crowns, dental bridges are fixed prosthetic devices that your dentist or a prosthodontist cements onto existing teeth. We commonly use bridges for patients who are missing one or more teeth. We create precision-crafted bridges and cement them onto adjacent natural teeth or onto dental implants surrounding the space left by the lost or missing tooth or teeth. The typical dental bridge consists of two dental crowns surrounding a false tooth, which is called a pontic, in the middle. Our dentist affixes the two dental crowns onto the teeth directly adjacent to the space left by the missing tooth, thus creating a proper bite and restored chewing function. Some bridges are designed to replace two missing teeth in the same area instead of one.
If you are missing more than two teeth, dental implants, dentures or partial dentures may offer better solutions.
In addition to replacing missing teeth, bridges can be used to improve your appearance, tooth shape, alignment, and overall bite, also known as dental occlusion. The gaps left in your mouth by missing teeth can cause your remaining teeth to shift, which can ruin your bite mechanics and cause other dental problems. Bridges and crowns can help prevent shifting teeth and poor bite mechanics. The false teeth or pontics used in dental bridges can be made from metal alloys, gold, porcelain or a combination of these materials. Bridges can be supported either by natural teeth or by dental implants. Bridges can:
- Restore your smile
- Restore the ability to properly chew and speak
- Maintain the shape of your face
- Distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
There are three main types of bridges:
- Traditional bridges include a crown to cover the tooth or implant on each side of a missing tooth, with a pontic in between. These bridges are most common and are made of porcelain fused over metal or ceramic material.
- Cantilevered bridges, which are rarely used anymore, were used for patients who had adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. This type of bridge is not recommended for placement in the back of the mouth where it can put too much force on adjacent teeth and cause damage to them.
- Maryland bonded bridges (also called resin-bonded bridges or Maryland bridges) are made of porcelain, porcelain fused over metal or plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal or porcelain framework.
The process involves preparing your adjacent teeth to receive the bridge. These adjacent teeth are called abutment teeth. Tooth preparation involves reshaping these teeth by removing a bit of enamel to make room for a crown to be placed without affecting your bite. Your dentist then takes impressions of your teeth. These impressions lead to the creation of a 3D model from which the bridge, including pontic and crowns, can be fabricated in a dental lab. Your dentist will make a temporary bridge to protect your exposed teeth while the permanent bridge is being made.
You will need a second visit so your temporary bridge can be removed and your new bridge can be checked and adjusted to achieve a proper fit and bite. Additional visits may be necessary to adjust the fit of your new bridge. This varies according to each patient’s needs. If your bridge is a fixed traditional bridge, your dentist may cement it in place temporarily for a couple of weeks to ensure proper fit. Once we achieve proper fit, we cement the new bridge permanently in place.
Dental bridges can last from five years up to 20 years with proper care and oral hygiene.
We welcome patients from Santa Barbara and nearby areas.
The team at Mesa Dental provides an array of restorative dental services combined with top-notch customer service. If you or anyone in your family is in need of dental bridges, wisdom teeth removal, root canals, gum disease treatment, gum grafting, inlays and onlays, dental crowns or dental fillings, we are here for you.