Bridges are dental devices used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges consist of a metal framework and one or more artificial teeth or crowns. They attach to the teeth on either side using clips (removable bridges) or strong adhesives (permanent bridges). Today’s bridges are made of very durable yet lightweight materials for longer-lasting, more comfortable results, and the crowns can be custom tinted to match neighboring teeth so they blend in beautifully.
The choice between a denture and a bridge is largely one of personal preference. Many people prefer bridges because they feel more secure and can’t slip or cause sore spots like ill-fitting dentures. Dentures can be a good option when the gap left by a missing tooth is not flanked on either side by teeth that can support a bridge.
Bridges usually take two to three office visits to complete. During the first visit, the teeth that will be used to support the bridge will be prepared for crowns, protective coverings that provide extra support and strength for these teeth. An impression will be made and sent to a lab where the crowns and bridge will be made. The tint for the crowns will also be selected at this time and temporary crowns will be applied to the supporting teeth to protect them while the permanent crowns and bridge are being made in the lab. At the next visit, the crowns will be applied to the supporting teeth and then the bridge will be attached using clips or adhesive, then carefully adjusted and gently shaped for a comfortable fit.
Bridges can be cared for like natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing and routine trips to the dentist to ensure they remain in good shape and fit properly. It can take some practice to learn how to properly clean around permanent bridges in order to prevent damage to the underlying gum.
With proper care, a dental bridge can last a decade or longer.