What is a bridge? Does it come in and out of my mouth? When life happens, we sometimes lose a tooth. One of the options to replace this tooth is often referred to as a “bridge” where the two teeth next to the missing tooth support a permanently cemented bridge made of a prosthetic tooth with support structures that wrap around the adjacent, existing teeth. A dental bridge is typically made using a porcelain or other ceramic material after a special fitting by your dentist.
What are the steps to getting a bridge? First, your dentist will evaluate the area. Your tooth may already be missing, or the tooth may need to be extracted if it is diseased or has experienced trauma. Next, your dentist will prepare the opposing teeth to be able to accept a dental bridge. There are two important factors when preparing and manufacturing a bridge – a perfect fit and a natural look.
Creating a perfect fit
The first step to creating a perfect fit is to take an impression of the area, which ensures that a dental lab can accurately build the bridge prosthesis to fit the existing area. Ensuring a perfect fit is important for the longevity of the bridge prosthesis and of your existing teeth. When a bridge has a perfect fit and is cemented permanently in the mouth, bacteria and food can’t get around or under the bridge, which would otherwise lead to decay and infection. A quality impression from the beginning ensures a good seal as well as the perfect anatomy for the bridge to be functional for you to chew and talk. We take extra care in making sure your new bridge is able to work with you to chew all types of foods by being functional in all directions, just like your bite before your mouth lost the tooth.
Providing a natural look
When it comes to providing a natural look for your bridge, several materials can be used, which also help to idealize your bite. Porcelain, zirconia, and even gold can be used to manufacture a bridge. A gold prosthesis used to be the standard of care, which does provide an excellent seal against the teeth. However, the price of gold makes this solution unobtainable and impractical for most in the present age. As technology and material science has progressed, we have found that porcelain and zirconia are better solutions when it comes to fit and aesthetics. Porcelain and zirconia solutions provide a much more aesthetic and customizable solution that can seamlessly integrate into your natural smile. Choosing the right tooth shade is a process that you will be involved with as you work with your dentist in the bridge preparation process.
A dental bridge can be a great solution for a missing tooth to restore the function of your bite and to make your smile complete. Another option for a missing tooth is a dental implant, which is beneficial because it can direct biting and chewing forces to your existing bone structure. A dental bridge can restore some function, but it doesn’t have the same abilities as a dental implant and will transfer those biting and chewing forces to the gum tissue instead, not supporting continued bone strength, and possibly leading to bone loss at the site of the missing tooth.