Dental bridges are commonly referred to as fixed partial dentures. This form of dental prosthesis is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Think of a dental bridge the same way you do a bridge on the road. They exist as a way to close an open gap between two points, and dental bridges do just that.
They are comprised of two crowns or abutments, which act as anchors for false teeth known as pontics. The abutments can be secured to either natural teeth or dental implants. Dental bridges are not removable and offer a permanent solution to tooth loss.
Dental bridges offer several benefits to those patients with one or more missing teeth:
- Replace missing teeth in a minimal amount of time
- Restore the patient’s ability to speak and chew
- Improve smile and confidence
- Aid in maintaining facial structure
- Distribute bite force during mastication
- Help retain natural teeth in correct positions
Styles of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are available in two styles depending on the needs of the individual patient.
This is the most common style of dental bridges. It makes use of healthy, natural teeth on both sides of the gap where teeth are missing. The teeth adjacent to the gap are prepared and capped with crowns to support the pontic in the middle. Usually the bridge utilizes ceramics or porcelain, but may have a metal substructure, which cannot be seen, to add strength if needed.
Also known as resin bonded bridges, these prosthesis are composed of plastic with a framework of metal supports. They are named for the University of Maryland, where the technology was developed. This style of dental bridge best accommodates replacement of front teeth, and is only suited for select cases. It can be a valuable tool for younger patients that are still maturing, but have missing teeth that did not develop or erupt. To utilize the Maryland Bridge, it is important the patient have a good bite position.
With advances in dental technology, all porcelain Maryland Bridges can now be created. This eliminates any aesthetic issues of the past and enhances their ability to perform as a cosmetic restorative option.
Patients with missing teeth are at risk for change in bite, movement of remaining teeth, TMJ disorder, gum disease and further decay of remaining teeth. Dental bridges can replace the missing teeth and act to restore health to the mouth. They allow patients to regain their smile, and maintain facial structure, while restoring the ability to speak and chew normally.