The What, Why and How of Fixed Bridges
What is a Fixed Bridge?
A fixed Bridge is a corrective dental procedure that utilizes recent technological innovations in dentistry. This reparative procedure uses materials such as porcelain, gold, alloys, or a combination. These materials are custom sculpted and fitted to an individual patient’s mouth to replicate the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. The material has the look and functionality of natural teeth with the added benefit of higher stain resistance, durability, and longevity.
Why are There Different Types of Fixed Bridges?
Three types of fixed bridges exist: traditional, cantilever, and Maryland bridges. Traditional bridges involve molding two crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap or damaged tooth. These crowns are placed over healthy, viable teeth and act as the anchor for the replacement tooth or teeth, called pontics, These replacement teeth are then inserted in between the two crowns. Traditional bridges are the most common type of fixed bridges. Cantilever bridges are used when only one side of the mouth contains healthy teeth to act as an anchor. However, this procedure is seldom used because it exerts too much pressure on the few remaining teeth and can cause damage to healthy teeth. Maryland bridges use porcelain or porcelain fused to metal framework and are bonded to existing teeth by a set of porcelain wings on each side of the bridge. Maryland bridges are commonly used to replace two or more teeth, especially the front teeth, and do not use crowns to cap the surrounding, healthy teeth. Therefore, Maryland bridges have very little effect on the rest of the teeth.
What is the Procedure to Attach a Fixed Bridge?
The procedure to affix a bridge is much the same as other restorative dental procedures. A dentist will assess the need for dental bridges and once the decision is made to pursue this treatment option, the dentist will prepare the teeth for the bridge. The preparation involves removing a small amount of enamel from the anchor teeth to allow room for the replacement. The dentist then takes impressions of the teeth and gums in order to custom make a bridge that will fit naturally in the patient’s mouth. The bridge normally takes a few weeks to make. On the second visit, dentist will affix the bridge to the healthy teeth and make any adjustments necessary to ensure the bridge feels natural and comfortable in the mouth.
How Are Fixed Bridges Maintained?
Fixed bridges are maintained in the same manner as natural teeth by regularly brushing and flossing the porcelain replacements in accordance with a normal daily oral care routine. Normal activities such as eating may feel awkward at first because of the addition of new or healthy teeth but these activities become easier and more natural once the patient adjusts to the bridge. If cared for properly, fixed bridges can last for fifteen years or more and are an excellent solution to missing or unhealthy teeth.