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an article by
Valentina Tkachenko
(visitor contribution)
Dental bridges are used to bridge a gap created by tooth loss and are constructed by placing two crowns on either side of the gap and constructing a bridge which supports a false tooth called a pontic which occupies the empty space. The pontic can be made of gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. The purpose of a bridge is to restore the patient’s smile, augment ability to chew and speak properly, maintain the shape of the face, properly redistribute the stress caused by chewing, and prevent remaining teeth from migrating out of position.

The three main types of bridges are traditional, cantilever, and Maryland bonded. The traditional bridge is constructed by placing a crown or implant on either side of the gap and installing a pontic made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. Cantilever bridges are used when there is only unilateral support is available, usually at the edge of the jaw. Maryland bonded bridges, also called resin-bonded bridges, consist of plastic teeth and gums which are supported by metal wings bonded to existing teeth on either side of the gap, called the abuntment teeth.

Constructing a bridge usually requires at least two visits, during the first of which the dentist prepares the abuntment teeth by reshaping them to properly accept a crown. Impressions of the mouth are then made which serve as a guide for constructing the bridge at a dental laboratory and a temporary bridge is installed until the second visit. During the second appointment the temporary bridge is removed and replaced by the permanent structure which is cemented into place after checking for proper fit and bite. A third visit is often scheduled to make sure that the procedure was successful and to make any necessary adjustments.

Frequently asked questions include inquiries concerning the longevity of the bridges – they can be expected to last at least ten years with proper maintenance. Care for a bridge does not differ from standard tooth care, but special emphasis is placed on keeping the supporting teeth healthy in order to prevent collapse of the entire structure. Another concern regard speaking and eating, but most patients find that both activities are easier with the bridge after a brief period of adjustment than they were with a gap between teeth. Most insurance plans cover at least a portion of the expenses of a dental bridge.

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