A bridge is a fixed option to replace one or more missing teeth in a row. Having missing teeth can negatively affect speech, function, lip and bone support, and overall facial aesthetics. The mouth is a dynamic place, and when patients have missing teeth, this can throw off the delicate balance of the mouth, creating unwanted pressure in certain areas. In order to complete a bridge, you must have strong, healthy teeth on either side of the missing ones. The healthy teeth are called the abutment teeth, and they will be connected together by pontic teeth, creating a bridge. Ponitc teeth are solid porcelain, often with a hidden gold substructure that is held into place by the abutment teeth, and they sit on the tissue in the missing area, giving the appearance of normal, fully erupted teeth.
Preparing teeth for a bridge is a two-part process, and depending how long your bridge is or how many teeth are involved, often the first appointment will take about an hour. Your doctor will start with anesthetic and then prepare the abutment teeth. Any existing fillings or decay will be removed from the abutment teeth at this time, and core buildup will be placed. A core buildup is a very hard, light cured material that is bonded onto a tooth, making it a very strong substructure for a bridge to sit upon. There are usually three impressions that will be needed during your hour appointment.
Once the teeth have been prepared, your temporary bridge will be fabricated and cemented into place. You will function as normal with your temporary bridge and return for your second appointment 3-4 weeks later for the placement of the permanent bridge. Often patients will not need anesthetic, and the appointment will take, on average, about a half hour. A try-on of the bridge is performed, and if the patient and doctor agree that the fit and feel of the new bridge is perfect, then it will be cemented into place.
A bridge will give you an immediate, same day replacement of missing teeth. It will look and feel very natural and restore balance to your mouth. It will increase chewing capacity and improve speech. A bridge is permanently cemented into place, so there is no risk of it ever falling out.
In order to complete a bridge, at least two healthy abutment teeth must be reshaped, which is an irreversible procedure. A bridge is one solid piece and cannot be flossed normally; there are special techniques and tools your doctor will teach you in order to care for your new bridge.
There is no recovery time needed for this procedure. We just ask you to not do any heavy duty chewing until your anesthetic has completely worn off. Often, the tissues around the prepared abutment teeth and the injection site are slightly sore following the procedure, however, over the counter medication can take care of that.
The costs for this procedure will vary. You must take into consideration how many teeth it will involve and the condition of your existing teeth. Dental insurance will usually help with this procedure, however, every plan is different. You will have the chance to sit with an administrative insurance specialist to determine your specific coverage.