A bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the anchoring teeth on either side of the gap (abutment teeth) and a false tooth/teeth in between (pontics).
Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
The loss of a single tooth can have a major impact on your not only your appearance but also your dental health.
Your bite is affected because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together, so your teeth can also drift from their correct position. This drifting can cause many undesirable consequences such as stress on jaws, muscles and teeth which can lead to jaw pain and headaches from malocclusion (a bad bite alignment).
Teeth adjacent to the space or from the opposite jaw will often drift or tilt. These teeth are often more susceptible to decay and gum disease because they are more difficult to clean around and food gets packs into the gaps.
Problems with the supporting structures of your teeth (gum and bone) can arise from the shifting of teeth as they try to fill a vacant area. There is greater strain is put on the remaining teeth on either side.
In order to prevent the drifting of teeth, a fixed bridge may be recommended. This will return your masticatory (chewing) system to a full complement of teeth. The teeth can then support each other and function beautifully together.
A bridge is usually used when there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
They are only possible if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support.
Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base for strength.
There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of strong porcelain, known as EMax or zirconia.
Costs will vary according to the size and type of bridge that you need. Although a bridge may seem expensive, it should last many years.
In many cases it can take up to 6 months for the gums to heal properly after an extraction.
This means that you may need to have a temporary denture for 6 months before the bridge is fitted.
You will 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.
There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dentist about them.
Yes, by having implants. The success of this technique means you may be able to replace missing teeth without crowning other teeth.
Remember that it is as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.