A dental bridge is an appliance used to replace one or more missing teeth. These appliances are cemented into place and cannot be removed by the patient.
As the name of this appliance implies, the bridge is made out of three pieces that fit into the open space in the mouth, "bridging" the gap. Most bridges are made of a pontic tooth (or false tooth), held together by two crowns (a "cap" that covers the tooth, approximating its normal size and shape). This trio is then attached (cemented) to the abutment teeth (the surrounding teeth of each side of the gap).
Nearly everyone who has one or more missing teeth is a candidate for a dental bridge. However, the difference between proper and improper oral hygiene is, generally, what determines the success of the dental bridge.
There are several different types of dental bridges. Your dentist or oral health specialist will recommend the most appropriate one for your mouth condition and the location of the missing tooth or teeth.
traditional bridge - a pontic tooth (or false tooth) is held together by two crowns (a "cap" that covers the tooth, approximating its normal size and shape). This trio is then attached (cemented) to the abutment teeth (the surrounding teeth of each side of the gap).
resin bonded bridge (also known as a "Maryland" bridge) - this type of bridge involves the pontic (false) teeth being fused together to metal bands, bonded to the back of the abutment teeth with a resin cement. This type of procedure is common when the teeth missing are in the front of the mouth.
cantilever bridge - this type of procedure is most appropriate when there is only one abutment tooth on either side of the span.
Crowns are used to repair badly decayed, broken, discolored, or misaligned teeth. Crowns completely cover teeth, restoring them to their natural size, shape, and function. The location of the crown in the mouth usually dictates the type of material used. The tooth under the crown is reduced in size. The crown will be permanently cemented over the reduced tooth. While you are waiting for the permanent crown to be fabricated, your dentist will provide you with a temporary one to wear. Crowns have a much longer life span than bonding, resist stains better, hold their color and resist chipping and cracking. Crowns, however, take longer to prepare than bonding and are not reversible. Your dentist can recommend which type of restoration is best for your particular situation.
If the tooth is severely decayed, or little tooth structure remains, it may be necessary to place a metal post into the tooth to support the crown. If this is the case, root canal therapy will be performed.
For more information about bridges and crowns or to schedule an appointment with our Delray Beach dental office, please call us today at (561) 272-8555.