A dental bridge, also known as a fixed bridge or fixed partial denture, is a prosthetic device used to replace one or more missing teeth. Used to correct altered bites, improve chewing abilities and improve speech, bridges also help to maintain the shape of the face, slowing down the process of premature wrinkles and age lines. Unlike a removable bridge or partial denture, a fixed bridge can only be removed by dentists.
A fixed bridge involves the use of artificial teeth to bridge the gap where one or more teeth may have been. At a minimum, most fixed bridges involves three (3) tooth areas.
A typical three unit fixed bridge contains one pontic (false) tooth and two abutment or retainer teeth. The bridge is designed so that the pontic tooth fits the missing tooth area, while the teeth on either side of the pontic tooth, the abutments or retainers, hold the pontic in place. Abutment or retainer teeth are your own natural teeth which will have crowns made. These crowns are then fused to both sides of the pontic tooth, afterwhich, the three fused units are cemented into the mouth. Fixed bridge restorations can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials such as porcelain fused to metal.
Initially, the fixed bridge may feel out of place for a few days after it has been inserted. This is normal. The teeth around this area are adjusting to new forces both in between the teeth and upon biting. Try not to eat or chew hard objects, foods or ice on the restorations for 24 hours. In order to attain optimum strength, the cement needs time to mature. And finally, don't worry about mild sensitivity to hot or cold foods. This sensitivity will disappear gradually over a few weeks.
Having bridge work done is a good investment to protect your teeth, maintain your smile and restore your ability to chew with confidence. Read more about the different types of dental bridges and how they are fabricated.