A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance and is an excellent way to replace missing teeth.
A “traditional bridge” is usually a minimum of three crowns fabricated as one piece by the lab tech. This includes two crowns that go over the two anchoring (abutment) teeth and one artificial crown (pontic) that replaces the missing tooth.
The pontic is carefully designed by our lab tech to mimic a natural tooth by passively sitting on the gums giving it the appearance of a natural tooth. Obviously this is where an experienced high end lab comes in handy and is very important.
A fixed bridge can be three teeth replacing one missing tooth or it can be up to fourteen teeth ( full arch) replacing numerous teeth.
Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years; however, home care and a good quality bridge is key to the longevity of your bridge.
Usually implants are a better option if the patient is a candidate and like anything there are pros and cons with any treatment.
Reasons for a fixed bridge:
- Fill space of missing teeth.
- Maintain facial shape.
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
- Restore chewing and speaking ability.
- Restore your smile.
- Upgrade from a removable partial denture to a permanent dental appliance.
What does getting a fixed bridge involve?
Getting a bridge usually requires two or more visits. While the teeth are numb, the two anchoring teeth are prepared by removing any decay and a portion of enamel to allow room for the restoration. Next, a highly accurate impression (mold) or an intra oral scan is made which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the bridge will be fabricated. In addition, a temporary bridge will be made and worn for two weeks until your next appointment.
At the second visit, your permanent bridge will be carefully checked, adjusted, and cemented to achieve a proper fit. You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of the procedure. Proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new permanent bridge.
Bridge or an Implant?
As mentioned before every procedure has its pros and cons. There are a few factors that will determine whether you should get a bridge or an implant.
- Time: an implant will require surgery and hence ‘healing. This could take up to 6 months at times before the missing tooth can be replaced to its final shape and position. A fixed bridge can usually be done right away with immediate results.
- Adjacent dentition: A bridge requires healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth where an implant does not.
- Surgery or not: An implant requires surgery, which really means that we have to prep into the bone and gums. Most of the time this is a very simple procedure and can be done with local anesthetics, but at times the patient might require additional treatments like bone and /or soft tissue grafting which might require additional healing time.
- Cost: Generally a bridge is less expensive at first, however an implant turns out to be more cost effective in the long term due to its longevity. This is mostly due to the ease of care and hygiene on an implant vs a fixed bridge which usually result in caries around the abutment teeth and failure of a bridge.
- Other: at times there a lot more factors that have to be taken into account when deciding on these two options, like age of the patient, their health , the rest of the mouth, hygiene and diet, etc… I will personally discuss all options with you during your consult.