Bridges offer a permanent, fixed replacement for one or more missing teeth. The teeth either side of the gap are prepared by your dentist and the replacement teeth are bonded to these teeth to 'bridge the gap'.
Using a bridge helps prevent the remaining teeth from drifting out of position if an empty space is left uncorrected which can cause bite problems and some discomfort.
Basic bridges are made of metal. For a more natural look, the metal can be covered in a thin layer of porcelain which gives a tooth-like appearance to the bridge. Alternatively, the bridge can be hand-made by a skilled dental technician, wholly from porcelain, with the end result being virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Bridges are usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth. An impression is taken of the mouth, using a soft mouldable material. This impression is used to build exact plaster models of the upper and lower teeth and gums, which demonstrates how the teeth bite together.
Your teeth that will support the bridge are then prepared to take the fixings and to ensure that the bridge is not too bulky.
A second impression is then taken of the teeth and any gaps. This is used to build the bridge to the exact size, shape and colour required.
Whilst the bridge is being made, a temporary plastic bridge or crown may be fitted.
When the bridge is ready, it will be fitted and small adjustments made to ensure a comfortable bite is maintained, before it is fixed in place.
Following the fitting, additional and regular oral hygiene care is required. If it is kept clean and providing there is no accidental damage, a bridge can last for many years. Your dentist or dental hygienist will recommend an appropriate home care regime.
Bridges fall within an area of dentistry known as Prosthodontics.