Fixed bridges, formally known as fixed partial dentures, are a method of replacing one or more missing natural teeth. A fixed bridge attaches to adjacent teeth, called “abutments,” by means of crowns (“caps”) placed on these teeth. Because a fixed bridge is supported by adjacent teeth, it is important to thoughtfully evaluate the condition of these teeth. Since the advent of dental implants, fixed bridges are used less frequently. At times, however, they are the best choice.
Types of fixed bridges
Conventional fixed bridge – as described above, the conventional fixed bridge involves re-shaping the neighboring teeth. We say “conventional” because fixed bridges are been made this way for decades.
Resin-bonded fixed bridge – this type of bridge, also described in the section “overview of tooth replacement,” involves no or minimal re-shaping of the adjacent teeth. The replacement tooth is attached to one or both adjacent teeth chemically, using resin bonding technology. The limitation is that each resin-bonded bridge can replace only one missing tooth.
Dental implant-supported bridges – in this type of tooth replacement, the tooth replacement is supported on either side by dental implants, rather than natural teeth. It is described in more detail in the section on dental implants.
How is a bridge made?
The first appointment, which is the longest, involves shaping of the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth (or teeth). After the shaping, an impression is made, and a recording of the upper and lower tooth relationship. Finally, a temporary bridge, made from a high-strength acrylic resin, is placed into position. At the second appointment, the framework of the bridge is evaluated for accuracy of fit. On the third appointment, Dr. Shonberg tries in the completed bridge to verify fit and aesthetics. Once everything is correct, the bridge is cemented into position.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from a variety of metal alloys, over which tooth-colored dental porcelain is veneered. Bridges can also be made from high-strength ceramics. Either type of bridge, porcelain-metal or all-ceramic, looks very good and involves no display of metal.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. We will show you how to use a floss threader for cleaning underneath the replacement tooth.