What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth or teeth, known as a pontic, which is fused between two porcelain fused to gold crowns to fill the area left by a missing tooth or teeth. The two crowns holding it in place are cemented onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth and are referred to as abutment teeth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace 1-2 missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you do with removable partial dentures.
In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge can be considered. Cantilever bridges are used when there is a very strong tooth, with a good root on one side of the open space. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues, restore function and even improve your speech. They will stop the teeth on either side and opposing the missing tooth from movement that will create bigger more expensive problems to solve later. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene, but will last many years with the proper care.
How is a dental bridge accomplished?
Dr. Schick will prepare your teeth on either side of the space for the false tooth. You will be given a mild anesthetic to numb the area, and he will prepare by reducing the size of each abutment (teeth on either side of the space) to accommodate for the thickness of the crown. When these teeth already have fillings, part of the filling may be left in place to help as a foundation for the crown. If the fillings are old they will be replaced so we do not place a new bridge over unseen active decay.
Dr. Schick will then make an impression, which will serve as the model from which the bridge will be made by a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be placed for you to wear, while your bridge is being made, until your next visit. This temporary bridge will serve to protect your teeth and gums and hold the space from movement by the abutment teeth.
If the missing tooth is an anterior tooth and you desire a temporary appliance while healing from a recent or treatment planned extraction, a Flipper appliance with 1-2 teeth can be fabricated in advance of the extractions. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent bridge is placed. A Flipper is a small denture type plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth with the missing teeth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent bridge and are cosmetic only and not for biting.
On your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed. Your new permanent bridge will be fitted, checked and adjusted for any bite discrepancies. Your new bridge will then be cemented to your teeth.