A bridge is a popular method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge is one or more artificial teeth cemented into place using real teeth or dental implants on either side for support—hence the name.
A bridge is a great way to effectively use dental implants to replace three or more teeth with only a few implant supports. It’s also a great way to close a gap between two natural teeth if the area doesn’t have enough bone to place a dental implant.
On the other hand, a bridge is typically not a good idea if the gap you are bridging is bordered by two perfectly healthy teeth. In that case, placing the bridge would involve stripping the enamel off of the two healthy teeth to turn them into supports. In essence, it would take a one-tooth problem, and turn it into a three-tooth problem. In this case, a dental implant would be a more conservative option.
A bridge replaces the missing tooth both functionally and cosmetically. Bridgework is as much an art as a science. Bridge materials include gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloys, or all-ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and esthetics.
A word of caution: Bridges can be challenging to clean, but oral hygiene is critical to maintain them. If a cavity gets in under a support tooth, it can easily compromise the strength of the entire bridge. Dr. Jonathan has had special training in geriatric dentistry, working in nursing homes, and has treated many patients who could no longer maintain their bridges due to declining dexterity. It’s important to think long-term when choosing how to replace missing teeth, and make sure you can keep them clean.