While dental crowns are used as caps to cover and protect damaged and/or decayed teeth, dental bridges are used as links — or bridges — to cover the space left by one or more missing teeth. Furthermore, dental bridges securely connect the adjoining teeth on either side of the gap.
Dental bridges are made up of two elements: replacement teeth and dental crowns.
Replacement teeth are used to fill in the space left by the missing natural teeth and are supported by the adjoining teeth, which are covered by dental crowns.
Why would your dentist recommend a dental bridge?
Having one or more missing teeth can make it difficult to talk and/or chew. Missing teeth can also lead to jaw bone loss and can cause your remaining teeth to shift due to the vacant space.
In addition to being cosmetic and covering the gap left by missing teeth, dental bridges also prevent the harmful side effects caused by missing teeth.
Your dentist may also recommend a dental bridge as a replacement for removable partial dentures.
What types of dental bridges are there?
There are several types of dental bridges made from different materials, including ceramic, gold, zirconia and porcelain fused to metal.
Traditional dental bridges are used when a patient has adjoining teeth on either side of their missing teeth. Whether they’re natural teeth or dental implants, both can be covered with dental crowns to help create the bridge.
A cantilever dental bridge is used for patients who don’t have adjoining teeth on both sides of the missing teeth. A cantilever dental bridge is held in place by a single dental crown.
An implant-supported bridge is supported by dental implants that are covered by dental crowns, rather than natural teeth.
What is the procedure for a dental bridge?
Dental bridges, like dental crowns, can be placed in just two dental visits. During the first visit, the anchoring teeth are prepared for dental crowns by removing some of the enamel.
A mold of the area is taken and sent to a dental laboratory to create a real dental bridge. A temporary bridge is made and worn in the meantime.
Before your real bridge is cemented during your second visit, your dentist may ask you to come in to ensure it fits and that it is functional.
How long do dental bridges generally last?
Dental bridges are very durable and can usually last up to 10 years depending on the overall health of your teeth and oral hygiene.
A good oral health routine includes daily flossing, brushing and mouthwash use.
Visiting your dentist regularly for routine dental cleanings, avoiding hard candies, foods and ice, as well as sticky foods, are also strongly recommended to preserve the life and cleanliness of your dental bridges.