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There are many different treatments available for badly damaged or decayed teeth, but unfortunately, sometimes a tooth is beyond repair and can leave an unsightly gap in your smile. Gaps between your teeth can seriously knock your confidence, and can even have a negative impact on the functionality of your other teeth and the overall use of your mouth since, over time, your remaining teeth can shift around, causing misalignment as well as a range of other associated dental problems.
Dental bridges fill the gap where the missing tooth would have been by using a false tooth, which looks and feels just like the real thing.
The false tooth also holds the remaining teeth either side in place so that they don’t shift into that space.
Dental bridges are comprised of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap which act as anchors for the false tooth/teeth that will fill the gap.
Once your dental bridge is in place, it should be virtually imperceptible.
The anchoring teeth are often referred to as abutment teeth and the false teeth are often called pontics.
The pontics can be made from a number of different materials including metal alloys, gold or porcelain, depending on what cosmetic finish you want to achieve. If you choose porcelain, they can be color-matched to your existing teeth so that they look completely natural.
There are a number of benefits of having a dental bridge. They can:
Prevent your remaining teeth from shifting position.
Help you bite and/or chew properly.
Correct your bite.
Properly align your jaw.
Maintain the shape of your face.
Give you a great smile.
There are three main varieties of dental bridges, and the type your dentist recommends will vary depending on where in your mouth the missing teeth are located.
A traditional bridge is the most commonly recommended treatment for missing teeth. It involves creating crowns to go on the teeth on either side of the gap which acts as anchors for the pontic that will sit in-between them. Traditional bridges are usually made from porcelain that has been fused to ceramic or metal.
Also sometimes referred to as a Maryland bonded bridge, this type of bridge can be created from a variety of materials including porcelain fused to metal, complete porcelain or sometimes plastic teeth and gums that are supported by a porcelain or metal framework. The wings found on each side of the bridge, usually made from metal or porcelain, are securely bonded to your natural teeth.
Cantilever bridges are used when there are only existing teeth that can be used as anchors on one side of the gap. In the past there have been problems with cantilever bridges being used in the back of the mouth as they were found to exert too much pressure on the anchor tooth, causing damage and even breakages.
A dental bridge will require at least two visits to your dentist. During the first visit, your dentist will carry out a thorough examination of your teeth.
After giving you a local anesthetic, he/she will prepare the abutment teeth by filing away some of the enamel in order to make your tooth small enough for the crown to sit over it, hiding it completely. Then your dentist will take impressions of your teeth which will be used as a guide for the dental lab that will be making your crowns, pontic and bridge so that it is a perfect fit. Finally, the abutment teeth and gap will be covered with a temporary bridge to protect them while the final bridge is being created.
When your bridge is ready you will be invited back in to see the dentist who will remove your temporary cover and fit your final bridge. This may require multiple visits in order to ensure that the cover and fit is absolutely perfect. Before your bridge is cemented in place permanently, your dentist may suggest a ‘trial run’. This is where they are implanted with a temporary adhesive to check that they are completely comfortable before securing them in place with permanent cement.
With proper care and attention, your dental bridge could last as long as twenty years. You should continue with a thorough oral hygiene routine including brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. As well as try to avoid particularly chewy foods or cuts of meat as these will put additional strain on your bridge.
The cost of dental bridges varies depending on the number of pontics and false teeth that are required. The more you need, the greater the cost will be. We recommend that you speak to your dentist for an accurate quote for your dental bridge treatment.
You may find that some or all of the cost will be covered by your dental insurance, so you should check this with your insurer before booking your treatment.