Reasons for a Dental Bridge
There are two primary reasons for bridging gaps in your teeth:
- Aesthetic reasons – Gaps in your teeth may ruin your smile and make you self-conscious.
- Functional reasons – Missing teeth can weaken the underlying bone structure and cause further tooth loss if not repaired and supported with a bridge.
How Dental Bridges Work
As the name implies, dental bridges span the gap created by the missing tooth. In order to make a bridge, there must be supporting teeth to which the bridge can be attached. There are two main portions to a dental bridge:
- The pontic is the part that spans the gap
- The abutment piece attaches to the teeth surrounding the gap
Most bridges will have two abutment pieces, one to each side of the gap. These are basically dental crowns affixed to the adjacent teeth. In general, twice as many teeth are needed to support the pontic. So, if you have a two-tooth gap, four adjoining teeth might be needed for the abutment. Alternatives like dental implants may be recommended for larger gaps in your smile.
A cantilevered bridge, using one support tooth may also be an option if Dr. Firouzian only has one abutment possibility for a one-tooth gap. In some cases, a dental implant may be recommended instead of a bridge in order to preserve your natural teeth or better balance forces for a longer-lasting restoration.
The Dental Bridge Building Process
The teeth adjacent to the tooth gap are prepared to accept a crown by removing tooth structure. Any fillings or other dental work will need to be finished before starting a bridge restoration. A dental bridge procedure used to take at least two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, Dr. Firouzian will prepare the abutment teeth to accept a crown. In some cases, CEREC can be used to craft a dental bridge at this visit.
If CEREC isn’t right for your bridge, after the teeth are prepared casts are made of the abutment teeth and the bridge piece is fabricated in the dental lab. The tooth color of the surrounding teeth is also matched at this time to ensure that the bridge does not appear out of place. The lab will create the bridge, consisting of the pontic piece and the adjoining crowns, to fit snugly over the abutment teeth and will make the pontic to match. You will be fitted with a temporary bridge until the lab finishes fabrication.
During the second visit, the bridge is fitted and adjustments made if necessary. The abutment pieces are affixed to the prepared teeth and bonded into place. With proper care, a dental bridge can be a permanent solution to missing teeth.