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Bridges

All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing, and maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, or alleviate stress on your bite. A bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.

Options

A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges) or they can be removable.

Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.

If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. When a tooth or teeth are lost the teeth around it tip and move toward the space formerly occupied by the missing tooth or teeth. This shifting of the teeth alters the direction of force applied to the remaining teeth, their roots and the jaws during chewing. These misdirected forces accelerate tooth movement and allow the teeth that used to chew with the missing tooth or teeth to move up or down out of their sockets into the empty space. Dental bridges can correct an altered bite, improve your chewing ability and speech and prevent the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age line. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.

What Is A Bridge/Fixed Partial Denture?

A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device that fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts.

Types of dental bridges

There are basically four types of dental bridges:

  1. Traditional dental bridges where the teeth on each side of the empty space are prepared for dental crowns and a dental bridge is made including a tooth between them (a pontic) to “bridge” the gap.
  2. A resin bonded “Maryland” dental bridge, where the pontic tooth is fused to metal bands that can be bonded to the back surface of the teeth on each side of the empty space.
  3. A cantilever dental bridge where there are teeth on only one side of the empty space
  4. An implant supported dental bridge where there are no adjacent teeth to act as anchors for the dental bridge.

The traditional dental bridge is the strongest and is typically used to replace back teeth where the forces of chewing and grinding are strongest. The resin bonded “Maryland” dental bridge is the most conservative and reduces the amount of tooth preparation. It is also the weakest and is used primarily to replace front teeth for that reason. The Cantilever dental bridge typically replaces one tooth where more strength than a “Maryland” dental bridge can give is required. The implant supported dental bridge is the most versatile and offers strength rivaling the traditional bridge. It is also more expensive to place and restore. Implant supported dental bridges also require good bone quality and density to be used.

What Materials Are Used?

Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either a precious or non-precious metal.

How Long Does It Take?

The design and placement of dental bridges for teeth is typically completed within 2-3 weeks using steps similar to those used to design and place dental crowns.

First the abutment (teeth on either side of the empty space) are prepared for dental crowns. Based on his many years of experience Dr. Chen will carefully remove any damaged and weakened areas of your abutment teeth then strengthen them with buildup materials when necessary. He will then meticulously reshape your natural dental crowns to receive your new dental bridge then take an impression of the prepared teeth. Once you approve of the color selected for your new dental bridge, Dr. Chen will design your dental bridge and send it to our dental bridge professional laboratory for fabrication. Fabrication of a dental bridge typically takes 2-3 weeks. However, because our office and dental laboratory are local our dental bridges are sometimes finished earlier. In the meantime Dr. Chen will protect your teeth with a temporary tooth colored acrylic dental bridge.

Secondly, once your dental bridge is finished and before your appointment for placement, Dr. Chen will perform his first quality assurance check. Dr. Chen will evaluate your new dental bridge to ensure that it meets his custom design specifications. He will also evaluate the craftsmanship with which your dental bridge was made. If any discrepancies are discovered they will be corrected. Once the new dental bridge passes this first quality assurance check your new dental bridge will await you and your placement appointment.

Finally, during your placement appointment, Dr. Chen will perform his second quality assurance check. He will evaluate the accuracy of fit, functional compatibility and color match of your new dental bridge with your surrounding teeth. Adjustments, if necessary, will be made and your new dental bridge will be polished. Once this has been completed to Dr. Chens’ professional satisfaction you will evaluate the fit, feel and appearance of your new dental bridge. If you want changes made we will make them. Once you approve of your new dental bridge Dr. Chen will then cement your new dental bridge onto your natural teeth.

How Do I Take Care of My Bridge?

The success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. Therefore, it’s very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong.