A fixed bridge offers a very esthetic and natural replacement for missing teeth. It improves appearance, self-confidence and helps eliminate future dental problems.
Every tooth has three to four companion teeth which are neighboring teeth along with one or two biting partners located in the opposite arch in the mouth. When a tooth is lost it no longer functions as a companion tooth or biting partner, leaving a void spot in the mouth. The remaining teeth no longer receive the stability supported by this lost tooth. Exposed areas that are left by the missing tooth are prone to decay and periodontal disease. Tissue around the adjacent teeth will migrate back from the teeth. Statistics tell us when a tooth is lost; its companion tooth will be lost next. The next tooth will be subjected to the same problems and it creates a domino effect. It leaves a void and the adjacent teeth will fall into the missing tooth area. Meaning your teeth will move to find a biting partner.
Immediately after tooth loss
This can happen if the missing tooth is not replaced.
- The opposing tooth will slip down.
- The unprotected ridge is subject to biting trauma.
- The neighboring teeth tilt and proper functional balance is destroyed.
- The drifting teeth create food impact areas where decay starts.
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) can start.
- Destruction of the bone will result as teeth drift and tip.
Questions and Answers
What is a fixed bridge?
Abutment teeth are the teeth that attach to the bridge. They are companion teeth for the lost tooth. The pontic (replacement tooth) now provides the much needed companion for the abutment teeth for stability. Abutment teeth are prepared in the same manner a tooth is prepared from a crown. Multiple unit bridges have several pontics attached together instead of just one pontic tooth. See the pictures below to help explain the treatment.
Who should get a bridge?
If you are missing any teeth you may be a good candidate for a bridge. Fixed bridges can correct an altered bite, and maintain appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines. Also if you wear removable partials this will take that place of the removable appliance and be fixed appliance.
What procedures are involved?
For a traditional fixed bridge, the first appointment consists of the dentist reducing the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors, impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, is created. By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth. The total treatment time is usually between two and four weeks, depending on the type of bridge. The porcelain on the bridge is matched to the natural teeth that are adjacent to the bridge.
How do I care for a bridge?
If you do not control the buildup of food debris and plaque, the sticky film of bacteria formed from acids in foods, your teeth and gums can become infected, requiring further treatment and resulting in possible loss of bridge. Your dentist may also recommend using floss threaders that help remove bacteria from hard to reach spaces between the bridge and adjacent teeth and gums. If you maintain optimal oral hygiene care, you can expect your fixed bridge to last as many as 10-15 years, or even longer. Always caring for the anterior bridge will be very different than with natural teeth. Avoid biting into apples, corn and other hard food items with anterior bridges.