Dental bridge work involves the creation of a false tooth, called a pontic, to replace one that is missing. Different types of bridges include the fixed bridge, the resin bonded bridge, and the cantilever bridge. Two crowns hold the pontic in place.
Unlike some partial dentures, a fixed dental bridge cannot be removed by the wearer because it is attached to the mouth. The resin bonded type of bridge work is used mainly for front teeth, if the teeth next to them are in good condition, and involves using metal loops that are attached to the supporting teeth with a resin. A cantilever bridge may be used on the front teeth and is mostly used when just one side of the missing tooth has another tooth beside it in good condition, since it's designed to be anchored on only one tooth.
Dental bridge work is usually considered as cosmetic dentistry, as missing teeth can look unattractive. Research has shown that missing teeth can lead to faster gum disease and tooth decay if the area is left open, however. Missing teeth may also disrupt the alignment of the other teeth.
Before performing the bridge work, the dentist can help the patient choose the right tooth color for the bridge. The best color is what looks the most natural for the patient based on his or her natural tooth color, skin tone, and eye color. A person's teeth are naturally different shades of white, with the front teeth usually the whitest and the eyeteeth the darkest.
Installing a bridge usually takes two sessions with a dentist. The patient's teeth may be sensitive to cold and hot foods for several weeks after having the work done, and he or she must practice good oral hygiene to avoid infection. In preparing for the bridge, the dentist files down the adjoining teeth and takes impressions of the them in order to fit on the crowns where the false tooth will be attached. Dental bridges often last between five and ten years, if proper oral care is maintained, and can be made of porcelain, metal, or ceramic.