What is a Bridge?
Bridges are fixed, joined crowns that replace one or more missing teeth. The bridge will use the teeth either side of the gap and act like a crown on these teeth with a ‘floating’ tooth in the middle that will fill the space.
Why may I need a bridge?
A bridge is used to fill the space where a missing tooth would have been. It is a good idea to restore the spaces to prevent teeth from drifting, to restore your ability to chew properly and to restore your smile back to how it was before the tooth was missing.
What happens during the bridge preparation procedure?
On the first appointment the teeth either side of the gap will normally be numbed with an injection of local anaesthetic in order to trim down the teeth around all of there surfaces to ensure the bridge will fit correctly. Once the teeth are prepared, impressions will be taken of both the upper and lower teeth. The impressions will be sent to the lab for the bridge to be made. The final part of the first appointment will be to make temporary crowns for the trimmed down teeth to protect them for a couple of weeks whilst the bridge is being made and they will be cemented on with a temporary cement. At this appointment you will still leave the appointment with a gap until the permanent bridge has been cemented in place at the next appointment.
The second appointment is usually 2 weeks later. The temporary crowns are removed (usually without anaesthetic) and the new bridge is fitted with a permanent cement. The bite is then checked and adjusted as necessary to make sure it feels comfortable when you bite together.
What kind of bridges are available?
There are three different types of dental bridges available:
Traditional fixed bridge- this type of bridge uses the teeth either side of the gap where the missing tooth is and crowns are placed on these teeth and they are joined to a floating tooth in the middle which sits in the gap to fill the space.
Cantilever bridge- this is very similar to a fixed bridge but you only use one tooth at the side of the gap rather than two teeth on either side. A crown is placed on the tooth at the side of the gap and attached to the crown is a floating tooth which will fill the gap where the missing tooth is.
Maryland bridge- this type of bridge has a false tooth which sits in the gap where the missing tooth is but attached to the false tooth are metal or porcelain ‘wings’ that are cemented to the backs of the teeth either side of the gap.
Bridges are made from a variety of different materials:
Porcelain fused to metal or zirconia
Metal including gold alloy
What should I do after I have had the tooth prepared
for the bridge?
If you have had the tooth/ teeth numbed, then you will have a tingling sensation for a few hours after the treatment has been completed. Avoid eating until the numbness has worn off to prevent biting your lip or tongue and to protect the temporary crown(s). You may use the tooth/ teeth once the numbness has fully gone but to be aware that the temporary crown(s) are only cemented on with a temporary cement, so avoid anything hard or chewy to prevent the temporary crown(s) from debonding and coming off.
If the temporary crown(s) came off between the first and second appointment then re-attend the practice to have the crown(s) re-cemented or a new temporary crown(s) made.
It is normal for the tooth/ teeth to be a little sensitive with the temporary crown(s).
How long will the bridge last for?
Any permanent bridge in any material can last up to 15 years and sometimes they can last longer than this but it all depends on how you look after it.
How do I look after my bridge?
After the bridge has been fitted you can treat it like any other tooth. The teeth will still be prone to decay or gum disease like a normal tooth so we advise that you maintain a good, regular oral hygiene regime. You can use super floss or interdental brushes around the bridge but remember the bridge is joined together so it won’t be possible to floss between the crowns and the false tooth. The super floss and interdental brushes can be used under the false tooth part of the bridge and either side of the crowns which are next to the teeth that aren’t connected to the bridge. We advise using floss or the interdental brushes at least once a day along with brushing twice a day for 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. We recommend that you see your dentist and hygienist regularly so that that bridge can be checked and to catch any problems early.