Dental Bridges

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A dental bridge is a kind of false tooth, used to replace one or more missing teeth by using the surrounding teeth as an anchor. The false tooth (sometimes called a pontic) is fused in between two dental crowns which are put on top of the nearby teeth. This will help to keep the false tooth in place and give the restoration the strength it needs. The false tooth used in dental bridges is often made for porcelain, gold, alloys or a mixture of different materials.

Dentists will usually recommend a bridge when you have one or more missing teeth which are impinging on your appearance, smile, speech or the shape of your face. Missing teeth can often increase the chances of you developing gum disease or tooth decay due to the food debris left in the gap. They may also affect your bite (occlusion) as surrounding teeth lean into the gap which changes the way in which your upper and lower teeth connect.

Fitting of Dental Bridges

To fit your bridge, your dentist begins by numbing the area using a local anaesthetic. The surrounding teeth will then be prepared by shaving away a tiny part of their structure to accommodate their crowns. You will need to have an impression taken of your teeth in specialised dental putty. This will be used to custom make your restoration in a specialised laboratory. Whilst you are waiting for this to be completed, it is common to have a temporary bridge fitted so that your teeth and gums will be properly protected during the wait. Once it is ready your dentist will make some final checks and if any adjustments are required, they will be made there and then. Once you are both happy with the fit and appearance, your dentist will fix the bridge using dental cement. It is common to have a number of follow up appointments in order to check how the bridge is faring.

Types of Dental Bridges

Traditional bridges are the most commonly used. These are typically made from porcelain which is then fused to ceramics or metal. This kind of bridge is fixed and can't be removed. Resin-bonded bridges (sometimes called Maryland bridges)  are favoured when the gap which needs to be filled lies between the front teeth. It is also used when the surrounding teeth are healthy and don't have any fillings. This type of bridge is made from plastic which is, in turn, fused to bands of metal.

Taking care of your Dental Bridge

Dental bridges will last for many years as long as you take care of them by maintaining a healthy diet and keeping up a good oral hygiene regime. You will need to take care of your bridge in the same way you would your natural teeth. Make sure you clean your bridge every day, paying particular attention to the false tooth as this will help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath (halitosis). Similarly, you will need to continue caring for your natural teeth as it is these which provide the anchor for the bridge. All dentists would agree that you should attempt to brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day. You should also try to cut down on sugary snacks and drinks.

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