What is a dental bridge?

Whereas a crown is placed on a single tooth, a dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. A bridge literally “bridges” the gap created by a missing tooth or teeth, and is anchored by the healthy teeth on both sides of the gap. Crowns are placed on the healthy teeth. These are called the abutment teeth. Then a false tooth or teeth, known as pontics, replace the missing teeth. The bridge is usually a single piece and is permanently cemented into place.

Why should I replace a missing tooth?

Sometimes a person opts to not replace a missing tooth that either was lost due to trauma or was extracted. This is a bad idea. First, without the pressure from the missing tooth, the adjacent teeth tend to slide over into the gap. This affects your smile, your bite, and your self-confidence. Also, a missing tooth can make you avoid certain foods. It can create a whistling sound when talking. And it can lead to deterioration of the jawbone beneath the missing tooth or teeth.

How is a bridge placed?

Depending on the complexity of the bridge, placing it will likely involve two appointments. During your first appointment, we prepare the abutment teeth for their crowns. As mentioned above, we shave off a portion of the enamel to make room for the crowns to be placed over them. Then, if the bridge is too complex for fabrication by our CEREC system, we’ll take impressions and send them off to a dental lab to make your bridge. Otherwise, our CEREC system will make it in-office.

Either way, when your bridge is finished, we’ll first test the fit and the color match with your adjacent teeth. We’ll adjust it as necessary. Sometimes, we’ll place the bridge with temporary cement to allow you to test the fit during normal use before we permanently cement it into place.

Are there different types of bridges?

There are three main types of bridges:

  • Traditional bridges are the type we’ve described above with crowns on two abutment teeth and a pontic between them. Traditional bridges are the most common. We prefer them to be made from porcelain for durability, but other materials such as ceramic can be used.
  • Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. Unlike a true bridge, with anchors on both sides, a cantilever bridge is more like a balcony. We anchor these types of bridges with two crowns on the one side.
  • Maryland bridges are also known as resin-bonded bridges. Typically used on the front teeth, a Maryland bridge doesn’t use crowns as anchors. Instead it attaches to bands that are bonded to the back surfaces of the supporting teeth.

Schedule A Consultation

If you are interested in Dental Crowns or Bridges and would like to see if you are a good candidate, contact our New Orleans office at (504) 486-3339 to schedule a consultation.