A dental bridge is a prosthetic dental device designed to replace a missing tooth or teeth, lost to accident or tooth decay. The device is anchored securely onto abutments on either side. These abutments can either be the patient’s natural teeth or dental implants. A dental bridge is carefully shaped and fitted to follow the contours of the patient’s mouth.
If you and your dentist agree that a dental bridge is the best solution for you, he or she will choose among three types of bridges:
- Fixed bridges: A fixed bridge is a prosthesis that attaches to crowns placed over the anchor teeth or implants.
- Resin bridges: A resin bonded bridge is one that attaches to natural teeth without crowns. Resin bonded bridges are only fitted if the abutment teeth show no signs of decay or other damage.
- Cantilever bridges: Cantilever bridges are used when one of the abutment teeth is natural and the other is crowned.
The best candidates for dental bridges are patients who understand the importance of oral hygiene, who brush and floss their teeth regularly, and who visit their dentists twice a year for a checkup and professional teeth cleaning.
However well the bridge may fit, there will always be a tiny gap between the bridge and the gum line. This area needs to be regularly flossed in order to prevent gum disease and plaque buildup that might interfere with the fit of the dental bridge. It’s particularly important to maintain the natural teeth or implants that anchor the dental bridge into place. Grinding your teeth is a habit that can also interfere with the fit of a dental bridge by causing damage to the abutment teeth. People with bridgework who grind their teeth should consider investing in a plastic night guard.
Although a dental bridge will allow you to chew, it’s not as strong as your natural teeth. Biting down on hard foods can also harm your bridge and the abutment teeth that hold it in place.
With proper oral hygiene and reasonable caution about the foods you eat, you should be able to maintain a new dental bridge for 10 to 15 years.