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What are Dental Bridges?
Dental Bridges are dental replacements given to a patient when one or more teeth are missing from an arch but the others remain in a good state of health. They are fixed partial dentures which are made by taking support from the healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth. The teeth which provide support for the construction of the bridge are known as abutment teeth while the artificial tooth or teeth that replace the space created due to teeth loss are referred to as pontics. Dental Bridges can be made from a variety of materials like gold alloys, base metal alloys, ceramic fused to metal and full ceramic.
Dental Bridges are good alternatives to partial dentures and dental implants. They are much more convenient to use as compared to removable dentures and the technique is less invasive than placing a dental implant. However, not every patient is a good candidate for Dental Bridges. Dental Bridges cannot be used for the patient who has a long stretch of missing teeth. A Dental Bridge should be constructed only when the number of missing teeth is not more than three and the adjacent teeth or abutment teeth are in good health to support the replacement.
What are the different types of Dental Bridges?
There are three different classifications of Dental Bridges:
Number of sessions required for a Dental Bridge
- Based on material used
- Gold alloy Dental Bridges
- Base metal alloy Dental Bridges
- Full ceramic Dental Bridges
- Porcelain fused to metal Dental Bridges
- Any combination of the above
- Based on the position of supporting teeth or abutment teeth
- Traditional bridges
This is the most widely used replacement modality for a missing tooth or teeth. Traditional bridges take support from the adjacent healthy teeth or implants on either side of the missing teeth. The pontics or artificial teeth lie in between the two abutment teeth.
- Cantilever bridges
Used when the missing tooth has an adjacent tooth on one side only. In this situation, the dentist takes support from two adjacent teeth on the same side and prepares two adjacent teeth to receive the restoration. The pontic is placed at one end in this type of restoration.
- Maryland bonded bridges
Also known as resin bonded Dental Bridges, these are supported by a metal framework. They have metal wings on each side of the bridge that are bonded to the existing teeth.
- Based on the type of support taken
- Tooth supported Dental Bridges
- Implant supported Dental Bridges
Dental Bridges usually require two sittings at the dental clinic.
How long will the bridges last?
- In the first sitting, the dentist prepares the abutment teeth for restoration. The abutment teeth are reduced on all sides and an impression is taken for both upper and lower dental arches to register the right occlusion of the patient. This sitting usually lasts for an hour.
- In the second visit, the dentist bonds the prepared bridge work over the abutment teeth and corrects occlusal discrepancies, if any. In the case of implant supported prosthesis, the number of sessions may vary depending on how the implant heals. This sitting may take 15- 30 minutes.
Dental Bridges offer good longevity. With good oral care and regular dental visits and checkups, they can last for longer than 15 years.
What kind of dentist makes Dental Bridges?
Dental Bridge work preparation is typical work for the prosthodontic department and is performed by a prosthodontist. The procedure can also be performed by general dentists in public or private practice.
In most cases, the work can be performed without anesthesia. However, if patients complain of sensitivity during crown reduction anesthesia can be used to complete the procedure.
In general, patients undergoing the dental bridges procedure experience sensitivity following preparation work.
In the case of the patient with implant supported prosthesis construction, the recovery period is dependent on the healing of implants with osseous integration which may last for up to six months.
- Teeth sensitivity
- Latrogenic pulp exposure which may cause pain and the need for root canal treatment
- Injury to gingival or gum tissue
- Occlusal discrepancies which may lead to TMJ problems
- Inability to bite
- Breaking of bridges
- Accidental bridge removal
It is important to take good care of the bridges in order to increase their longevity and maintain proper health of the gingival tissue and the natural teeth. In addition to regular cleaning, flossing and rinsing, regular dental checkups are necessary.