Dental bridges are permanently installed (fixed) into the mouth to literally bridge a gap created by one or more missing teeth. Bridges can restore your ability to chew and speak normally as well as maintain the shape of your face and restore your smile.
A dental bridge is a single appliance attached to two teeth on each side of the gap. These two anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth and may be implants or natural teeth. Between the abutment teeth are false teeth, or pontics, that are constructed to fill the gap. Pontics can be made of varying materials such as gold, alloys, or porcelain.
At your first appointment for a dental bridge, the abutment teeth are prepared. This involves recontouring these teeth (removing a portion of enamel) to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Next, impressions of these abutment teeth are made from which the bridge, potnic, and crowns will be modeled after in a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be given to the patient to protect the exposed teeth and gums while the fixed bridged is being constructed.
During the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new, permanent bridge is checked and properly adjusted to achieve an optimum fit. Depending on the individual patient’s case, multiple visits may be necessary to check the fit of the bridge and bite. Fixed bridges may be cemented in by the dentist for a couple of weeks to ensure proper fit. After these few weeks, the bridge is finally, permanently cemented into place.
Good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day and flossing teeth daily as well as regular check-ups help to maximize the life of your fixed dental bridge. With proper care, it is not uncommon for a fixed bridge to last over 10 years.