A bridge allows the dentist to replace lost teeth without the use of a denture or dental implant. Basically a false tooth is held in place by being attached to a tooth next door. The disadvantage is that the teeth next to the space have to be prepared in a similar way to a crown in order to accept the bridge. If these teeth already have crowns or big restorations then this is not a problem, the major concern however is when these teeth have small or no restorations (fillings).One compromise is the ‘acid etched bridge’, with this type a fine ledge is placed on the back of the adjacent teeth.
|One disadvantage of a bridge is that the patient should wait three months before placement as the ‘gum’ shrinks’ after a tooth is extracted. If the bridge was fitted early a gap would appear underneath the pontic (the false tooth). At the back of the mouth this may not be a problem, at the front of the mouth however this may appear as a black line along the gum.|
|When the top of a tooth is lost due to decay there may be very little for the crown to actually hold onto. To gain ‘retention’ as dentists call it, a post is placed inside the tooth which forms a peg on top of the tooth and acts as a seat for the crown. Post crowns have a shorter lifespan than normal crowns as the roots may be brittle and weaker. Usually a post crown is a better option than having the tooth extracted with a subsequent denture or bridge. More about post crowns…|
Normally a bridge requires the adjacent teeth to be prepared to accept the abutments of the bridge. This is destructive to these teeth especially if they have small or no fillings in them. A more conservative approach is a ‘Maryland bridge’ which uses wings that attach to the adjacent teeth. The disadvantage of these systems is that the life expectancy of the bridge is only 4-5 years when compared to the conventional type of 8 years.
|As a lot of tooth tissue may need to be removed your dentist will normally give you a local anaesthetic (injection) before starting treatment.|