Dental bridges are used as an alternative to dental implants or dentures when a tooth or some teeth have fallen out or decayed. Bridges are used to fill the gap left by missing teeth and are connected to the existing healthy teeth. Bridges can only be fitted when an individual has a healthy jawbone and enough healthy teeth to support it. There are three types of bridge; these are traditional, bonded and cantilever bridges. Bridges are most commonly made of a mixture of strong porcelain and precious metals.
The Cantilever Bridge
The cantilever bridge is attached when there are healthy teeth situated at one side of the gap only; the bridge fills the gap left between the missing teeth or tooth and the healthy teeth. The most common type of cantilever bridge is a 3 unit bridge; this involves placing two abutments on the same side of the space left by the missing tooth and then attaching the false tooth (pontic), or dental bridge to the two crowns to fill the existing space.
Advantages of Bridges
Dental bridges often look more realistic and true to life than dental implants and dentures; dentists use colour charts in order to match the bridge with the colour of the existing teeth. Bridges can also be extremely hard-wearing and durable and can last up to 10 years if looked after properly. Bridges are also much less expensive than dental implants in the long-term.
Disadvantages of Bridges
Following the fitting of a bridge a patient may experience greater sensitivity to heat and cold; patients must also take care when eating harder foods as this may damage the bridge. Those who have a bridge fitted must take great care to maintain a high level of oral hygiene; this includes regular brushing and flossing as well as frequent check-ups with the dentist and eating a healthy balanced diet. Bridges should also be washed at least once daily.
Other Uses for Bridges
In addition to filling gaps between the teeth, bridges can also reduce the risk of gum disease and help to improve issues relating to poor tooth alignment and over or under bite. Fitting a bridge can also improve speech in some cases.