A bridge is used to replace one or more missing teeth in your mouth. Bridges are fixed, in that they are cemented on the supporting teeth or in some cases, fixed on an implant that has been placed next to the missing teeth.

Replacing the missing teeth will restore your ability to properly chew and speak besides its cosmetic advantages. In addition, the space caused by the missing teeth may allow the surrounding teeth to shift into that space. This shifting could cause a misalignment in your bite that can result in problems with your jaw joint. These shifted teeth are harder to clean making them more susceptible to gum disease, decay or even additional tooth loss.

It normally takes two or more visits for your dentist to complete the bridge.

On your first visit, a local anesthetic is administered to make the procedure more comfortable. During this visit, the supporting teeth, which are typically the ones on either side of the missing tooth are prepared by shaping and reducing their size. This is done to make room for the crowns that will slide over each of the supporting teeth. These crowns also serve as holders of the pontic, which is the missing tooth’s replacement.

Next, an impression of the abutments or the supporting teeth is made so a dental laboratory can custom fit the bridge.

Finally, a temporary bridge is inserted to protect the abutments as well as the space between them. In most cases, on your second visit the permanent bridge is placed and adjusted to insure proper fit and function. If the fit of the bridge is satisfactory your dentist will proceed with permanently cementing it into place.

Keep in mind in some instances, the bridge received back from the laboratory may not fit as expected. In these cases, your dentist may have to take a second impression or readjust the supporting teeth in order to fabricate a bridge that fits just right.

After the successful completion of the bridge, you may feel some discomfort, mild pain on biting, or sensitivity to temperature changes for a few days. As advised by your dentist, you can take an over the counter pain medicine to alleviate the discomfort. If these symptoms persist more than a few days, visit your dentist.

Please keep in mind that the longevity of your bridge depends in large part on your oral hygiene, diet and the health of the supporting teeth and gums, as well as the quality of the material in the bridge. Please ask your dentist for proper brushing and flossing techniques.

So let’s take a look at different options.

Even though rare, a full metal bridge is more suitable for replacing a missing tooth in the back of your mouth. Metal bridges are often the best option for people who have worn their teeth excessively. Note, there are different metals to choose from but as a rule the more precious metal or gold content in the metal the better the fit of the bridge and the better the health of the gums around it.

Keep in mind, fit is an important factor in sealing out the bacteria that tries to get between the bridge and the tooth possibly causing decay and premature failure of the bridge. In addition, gold tends to limit sensitivity or discoloration of the teeth or gums around the bridge compared to non-precious metals.

All porcelain bridges are generally considered the most aesthetic choice since they closely resemble the color and appearance of your teeth. However, all porcelain bridges tend to be more fragile compared to other brides. Porcelain bridges are most widely used to replace missing teeth in the front of the mouth. Porcelain continues to improve and in fact there are newly developed porcelain materials, such as Zirconium and Empress too, that better withstand the forces of chewing. Porcelain bridges can give you the Hollywood smile that you’re looking for.

The third kind of bridge has a porcelain exterior with a metal framework supporting it underneath. The porcelain gives you the desired aesthetic and the metal framework provides better structural support making the porcelain much stronger. This type of porcelain metal hybrid bridge can be used to replace missing teeth in any area of the mouth, front or back. Again, as a rule the more precious metal or gold content in the metal the better the fit of the bridge and the better the health of the gums around it.

Your dentist will recommend the bridge type that will be best for you, both in terms of quality and aesthetics.

If you have any additional questions, please consult your dentist.