A bridge is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.
Types of Dental Bridges
- Adhesive Bridge (Maryland Bridge)
This involves very minimal preparation - or no preparation at all - of the adjacent teeth. The bridge is fabricated in the laboratory and is simply bonded to the adjacent teeth. The advantage of fitting an adhesive bridge is that it is non-invasive dentistry and retains as much of the existing tooth surface as possible. This is often used in the front of the mouth.
- Fixed Bridge
This type of bridge requires shaping of the neighbouring teeth or dental implants. The bridge is then fixed to the prepared teeth using dental cement, adhesive or dental screws. Fixed bridges are usually fitted in the back of the mouth because they can sustain the bite pressure of chewing.
Materials used for Dental Bridges
There are three main types of materials used to construct dental bridges:-
- Porcelain bonded to metal alloy
Bridges constructed in this way have been tried and tested over many years. In many situations, they give the best combination of aesthetics, strength and durability. They are particularly suitable when the bite is strong or the teeth are very discoloured.
- Porcelain only
The main advantage of this type of bridge is their ability to bond to tooth structure, giving it strength and support. It also gives a very natural-looking restoration. Recent developments in ceramic technology have led to improved strength using zirconia and pressed ceramics, and it is now possible to use porcelain-only restorations in both the front and back parts of the mouth.
- Gold alloy
Gold is one of the best metals to use due to its inert properties. When combined with other metals to form an alloy, its strength and durability is improved. Gold restorations are known for their comfort and longevity. They are mainly used where aesthetics is not the main concern.
Stages of Dental Bridge Treatment
- Initial Dental Consultation
This could be a routine examination, or a patient wanting to discuss a solution to their dental problem. During this appointment we will discuss with the patient the possible solutions available.
- Dental Examination and record taking
During this appointment the patient has a thorough mouth examination to determine in detail the suitability of a bridge option. Dental photographs and impressions are taken and sent to the laboratory to create a diagnostic wax-up. This will help the dentist and the patient to come to a decision on the precise treatment at the next appointment.
- Discuss different treatment options
The dentist and the patient discuss the various treatment options available with the help of the wax-up and photographs. A detailed treatment plan is developed and the patient given time to consider the options presented.
- Preparation for Dental Bridge
If preparation of the supporting teeth is necessary, this is usually carried out in a separate appointment prior to the bridge being fitted. At this appointment, impressions, bite records and photographs are taken and sent to the laboratory to ensure the bridge is manufactured to fit precisely and match the look of the existing teeth. Temporary crowns are fitted on to the prepared teeth. Sometimes the patient will be asked to visit the laboratory the following day to ensure the bridge will match the colour of the other teeth as closely as possible.
- Fitting the Dental Bridge
After a final check, the bridge is either bonded or cemented to the supporting teeth, depending on the material used. Bite is checked to ensure comfort and a proper fit. Final photographs are taken and after-care instructions are given.
Care of your Dental Bridge
- Regular cleaning
You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.
We recommend regular hygiene visits, together with annual dental examinations, to ensure that the teeth and gums supporting the bridge remain healthy.