Dental Bridges for replacement of missing teeth
Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth and, as the name implies, bridge a gap left in the mouth by one or more missing teeth. In simple terms, dental bridges typically consist of crowns placed on the teeth adjacent to the gap (the abutment teeth) and the middle part (the pontic) shaped in the form of the missing tooth or teeth. Generally, both the appearance and function of bridges are excellent.
A disadvantage however is that to undertake this treatment there is a requirement to cut down and fit crowns onto each of the teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing teeth. These supporting teeth are called abutment teeth, and sometimes they are teeth that otherwise would not need such restoration. This amounts to significant injury to these abutment teeth which may shorten their life. Therefore, dental bridges are most appropriate when a tooth that needs to be replaced is adjacent to teeth that also are in need of extensive reconstruction and therefore require placement of crowns in any event because of their condition.
Another disadvantage is the fact that the wellbeing of the whole bridge relies on the wellbeing of the abutment teeth. Should anything happen to one of the abutment teeth the bridge will need to be removed.
Dental bridges can be made of gold, porcelain, or most commonly a combination of gold and porcelain depending on the aesthetic and functional requirements.
While there is still a place for dental bridges in dentistry, with advances in dental implantology it is becoming a much less common treatment option.
An alternative and more conservative approach to making dental bridges is the so-called Maryland or adhesive bridge. A Maryland bridge consists of a false tooth with a small metal wing on each side that is bonded to the back of the tooth on either side of the gap. This allows good, often long-lasting retention and does not require much trimming of the abutment teeth. However, although these variations are less destructive than a conventional bridge they may not last as long and do have a reputation for becoming detached at inopportune times.
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