Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are restorations that replace one or more missing teeth but not an entire arch. There are many types of bridges ranging from totally tooth bourn permanently fixed restorations that feel and act as well as natural teeth, to removable type appliances that are supported by the gum and bone and function less naturally. Factors that dictate the type of restoration use are the number of missing teeth to be replaced, the condition of the remaining teeth, expectations of the patient and cost.

The most common form of fixed dental bridges involves the preparation of teeth abutting a gap for crowns with the missing tooth being built in to the fabrication of the adjoining crowns. This is a favorable way to restore the missing teeth when the abutting teeth could benefit from being fortified with crowns in the first place. In addition, if surrounding teeth have become somewhat loose or are weak under chewing stress due to gum disease, then a fixed bridge employing multiple abutments can solidify an area of the dental arch as well as replace the missing tooth/teeth. However, if remaining teeth in an arch are too loose due to gum problems or a gap too expansive, then a fixed bridge may not be possible. In these cases, removable bridges or implants may be the only choices.

Other types of fixed dental bridges involve the use of abutting teeth with more tooth structure conservative methods. Bonded bridges, know as Maryland bridges, use thin braces of metal or porcelain that support a missing tooth with minimal amount of preparation to abutting teeth. They act and look like natural teeth except on occasion where a minimal amount of metal may show under some circumstances. A second type of conservative fixed bride involves the use of inlay preparations (small channels cut into abutment teeth) on tooth surfaces in proximity with a gap. These are made from porcelain and look and feel very natural but are applicable only for single tooth replacement. Another benefit of the above type dental bridges is that they can cost considerably less than crown type bridges.

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