Where a tooth is missing, you may wish to replace that tooth but don’t want to wear a removable partial denture. A bridge replaces a tooth by capping or crowning ( same thing ) the teeth on either side of the space, with a false tooth or teeth joining the two crowns. This is permanently placed, so it looks and acts like your own teeth.
An Implant supported tooth can replace a missing tooth without touching the teeth beside the space. See implants.
Now, to answer what a bridge is, I have to first tell you what crowns are.
What is a crown?
When you have a tooth that's compromised structurally from either deep decay, large fillings, or even some kind of fractures or trauma, you need to give this tooth a crown or a helmet. It's basically an armour that sits around this fragile tooth circumferentially and protects the tooth. To do this you've got to file this tooth down from all sides and then put a cap or helmet around this tooth, and then cement it. So this is what a crown is.
Now, when you have a tooth missing from, again decay, fracture, infection, gum and bone loss, and that space has a tooth in front and behind, you might be a candidate for a bridge. So, a bridge is when a tooth in front of the space and the tooth behind the space is shaved down and prepared for crowns, and then these crowns are soldered or splinted to a fake crown (or crowns) in the middle, replacing a missing space or spaces, and all of them are cemented using the teeth that are on either side of the missing spaces.
What is a Bridge?
So now lets break it down into technical terms. When you have a bridge, you are looking at the part of the crown that's resting on a tooth and that is called the "abutment", the part of the bridge, which is the crown not really sitting on anything, that is called a "pontic", and the part of the crown, that again is resting or sitting on a tooth, is called an "abutment". So a bridge is basically a combination of one, or two, or three abutments on either side, and one, or two, or three numbers of pontics in the middle. So hopefully this isn't too confusing. If you have any questions you can always shoot us an email, drop in a line and we can definitely try to answer this question.
Advantages of Bridges
Now, what are the advantages of a bridge? A bridge is less expensive than an implant (depending on the design). A bridge, if done right, can last you a long, long time, because it's splinting the teeth on either end of edentulous space, hence these teeth will not collapse into the gap in the middle. And also, like the saying goes "There's strength in numbers", the amount of bone around these teeth will stay the same because it's all splinted. The third advantage is, of course, you're getting a fake tooth in between which means if you smile, no one will really see a gap.
Disadvantages of Bridges
What are the disadvantages of a bridge? A bridge, because it is a splinted unit is very difficult to keep clean. And by that, what I mean is you can't really floss between the units of a bridge because all these areas are soldered. Are there aids that you can use to keep a bridge clean? Yes, there is something called super floss which is a floss that has a stiff end, a fluffy end, and a regular end. It's really really easy to use, and like I said, if you have doubts about this, please shoot us an email and we can definitely answer that question.
The other disadvantage of a bridge is if you ever end up having a cavity under the surfaces around the abutment, unfortunately we can't really patch things up, or fix things up superficially, most of the times, rather than not, we will have to take the entire bridge out, patch things up (take the decay away), then put a new bridge on. So what this means is even a small cavity around a bridge can end up being an expensive proposition just because the entire structure needs to be taken out and a brand new bridge has to be put back in. So this is one of the disadvantages of a bridge.
Bridge Maintenance and Longevity
For the most part of it, if you are someone who regularly comes in for cleanings, brushes, flosses, uses a high fluoride toothpaste, and do a lot of things at home like using water piks, and common sense aids like this, you don't ever really need to lose a bridge. In fact, I have known people to have bridges on for twenty-five/thirty years and it is still in their mouth because they were done well and they've been maintained well, as well.
So these are the advantages and disadvantages of a bridge. Again, I hope this video has shed some light into the fact that this is a treatment modality which is highly practical, could be highly aesthetic, and is one of those things that can be in your mouth for a long, long time provided the hardware is taken care of regularly. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, if you are doubtful if you are a candidate for either a bridge or an implant, send us an email. If you want to make an appointment, you can absolutely come in and have a word with us, and we can take it from there.
Thank you for watching.