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A bridge is a type of permanent dental prosthesis, built to replace one or more missing teeth. Dental bridges are held in place in the mouth by slipping them over, and cementing them to, specially prepared teeth, adjacent to the area missing the tooth or teeth. A bridge is different from a crown, as it is effectively 3 crowns as 1, with the replacement tooth in the center. The term “fixed” means the bridge is cemented onto the abutment teeth, and is not intended to be removed by the patient. Dental bridges can be made from a variety of zirconia, porcelain, ceramic, tooth colored resin, metals, or combinations of these materials. They can be made to look and function very much like your natural teeth, and are intended to be indistinguishable from your teeth in speaking and smiling.
Advantages and benefits of dental bridges
- Replacement of missing teeth with fixed bridgework prevents the adjacent and opposing teeth from moving/drifting.
- Replacement of missing teeth with fixed bridgework preserves the normal bite relationship between the teeth, allowing for better chewing force distribution, and preventing unnecessary tooth restoration caused by improper meshing of the teeth.
- Prevention of tooth movement with fixed bridgework can prevent loss of vertical dimension of occlusion (bite collapse), a condition in which loss of the back teeth leads to the lower jaw rotating closer to the upper jaw than it should. Subsequent shortening of the chewing muscles causes increased chewing muscle contraction forces and frequent jaw joint problems.
- Fixed bridgework allows near normal chewing efficiency, so that food can be properly reduced for normal digestion.
- Fixed bridges can be made with excellent cosmetic attributes. With modern ceramics, they are nearly imperceptible in the mouth. They look and feel to the patient like their natural teeth.
- Fixed bridges take only a couple of weeks to complete, in contrast to replacement of missing teeth with dental implants, which often take months to complete.
- Fixed bridges do not move or shift in the mouth when chewing, like removable partial dentures can.