● Crown: A replacement tooth
● Pontic: Artificial Tooth
● Abutment: The top of the dental implant that connects the implant to the crown
A bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth (or several teeth) by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implant.
Placing a bridge usually takes more than one visit. On your first visit, your dentist prepares the teeth on either side of the gap and takes the impression and sends it to the laboratory. Technicians make the bridge out of metal, ceramics, glass-ceramics or zirconium. Your dentist will place a temporary bridge to protect your exposed teeth while you are waiting for the permanent one.
An alternative to the traditional bridge and utilizes ”wings” on the sides of the pontic which attach it to the abutment teeth, meaning that little or no damage is done to those teeth in the process. They are the most often used in the front of the mouth and only if the abutment teeth are whole (no crowns or major fillings)the are no considered as strong as conventional bridges, and unlike other tooth replacement options the Maryland bridge cannot be made translucent, their structure requires them to be completely opaque, making them look some what artificial in the mouth.
Another tooth replacement option is a fixed bridge supported by an implant and not by natural teeth; this requires inserting implants in the jawbone for each missing tooth, then the crowns are connected to each other to perform one piece.
An implant supported bridge is used when more than one tooth is missing. It also may be used when your dentist is concerned that you might put too much pressure on individual implants that are not connected to each other. For example clenching or grinding your teeth can put a lot of pressure on individual implants, this can increase the chances that they will loosen from the bone and fail. An implant supported bridge reduces the pressure on the individual’s implants in the bone, and spreads it across the entire bridge. If the implants are placed next to natural teeth, the natural teeth and surrounding gums must be in good health.
Requires a prior evaluation of your full bite from your dentist.
Cantilever bridges are another option for replacing missing teeth. They are very similar to traditional bridges, but the pontic is supported by an abutment on only one side, rather than on both sides. So there is only one natural tooth or implant next to the gap, and a bridge can still be secured. Like traditional bridges, your dentist will need to prepare the adjacent tooth to support the bridge by removing its enamel. Because these restorations are only supported on one side, they may act as a lever in some cases, explains the National Institute of Health (Note: this may lead to complications like fractured teeth or loosened crowns. This option is not for every patient and will require a prior evaluation of your full bite from your dentist.