A Dental Bridge is one way to replace one or more missing teeth. It literally “bridges” the space between two teeth when a gap exists due either to tooth loss or the natural position of the teeth.
There are many materials used in the construction of a dental bridge and the decision as to what is appropriate in your case will be discussed in detail with your dentist. Conventionally, they are made from porcelain fused to metal but many variations exist depending on biting forces, aesthetic needs and the amount of healthy tooth tissue that remains on the support teeth. There are three main types seen today…
- Conventional Fixed Bridge: This is where the two support teeth on either side of the gap are crowned and are fused to a false crown in the middle.
- Cantilever Bridge: These are normally used where a smaller space exists and one of the adjacent teeth has enough supportive strength to allow two fused crowns to be supported by a single tooth.
- Resin Bonded Bridge: These are also called “Maryland ” Bridges and involve the use of “wings” of material attached to a false crown, and can be thereby be bonded to the non-visible aspect of one or more adjacent teeth. They are small and well tolerated but do not have the structural strength of the other types of Bridge. It is for this reason that they are used in regions of low biting loads (forces) and sometimes as a medium term solution in cases of unexpected tooth loss or post- extraction. They do not usually last as long as the more conventional bridge-types (approx. 8 yrs.) but they involve very little tooth preparation/reduction and can be an excellent solution in certain cases.
The process of manufacture is very similar to crowns in that it takes two visits (at least), temporary crowns are placed on the prepared teeth in the interim and the finished Bridge is cemented on the final visit.
Please discuss with Dr Sharkey the solution that best suits your case as it may be that a better alternative exists but Bridges can be a very predictable and aesthetic means of tooth replacement.