A dental bridge is a type of permanent fixed prosthesis for replacing missing teeth. Two or more existing teeth are used to create a bridge to cross and fill the space of one or multiple missing teeth. Bridges can be fabricated from porcelain, metal or a combination of both. Dental bridges can be supported by natural teeth, or implants.
In cases where the patient’s age, overall and / or dental health, severe bone loss, history of failed implants, or personal preferences do not permit treatment with an implant, a dental bridge is an appropriate option for replacing missing teeth. A tooth can be lost due to periodontal disease, gross decay, or trauma. It is important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. A missing tooth is not only an aesthetic concern. When a patient has one or more teeth missing, the teeth adjacent to or opposite of the missing tooth will begin to shift and erupt unnaturally. This process causes structural damage to the jaw bone, weakens otherwise salvageable teeth, and ultimately leads to further tooth loss. In addition, when a patient is missing multiple teeth, his or her chewing function is negatively impacted. Multiple missing teeth are directly linked to serious gastrointestinal issues.
A dental bridge typically requires two office visits, and normally takes 1-3 weeks in treatment.
- The patient is numbed using local anesthesia
- The existing teeth (retainers) will be contoured and prepared to hold the bridge
- A final impression is taken
- A shade matching the patient’s natural tooth color is selected
- A temporary bridge is cemented to protect the area being treated until the permanent bridge is ready
- The temporary bridge is removed.
- The permanent bridge is cemented in place.
- Minor adjustments are commonly made to ensure a proper occlusion (bite).
To ensure the longevity of a dental bridge, the patient will need to take a few simple extra steps with their home care. Because regular floss cannot be used to clean dental bridges, a floss threader, waterpik or super floss can be used to clean under the bridge. Regular routine dental cleanings are a must to avoid the buildup of tartar and harmful bacteria around and under the bridge, and to catch and fix any problems early.
When not properly cared for and monitored, a dental bridge can become loose and fall out over time. This is most commonly due to decay under the retainer crowns. When that happens, the decay must be cleaned and a new bridge may need to be fabricated.
A more serious and aesthetically unpleasant side effect of bridges is the bone loss and gum recession that will occur over time at the site of the pontic (previous missing tooth). Because there is no pressure / usage of the bone below the pontic, bone resorption will occur within a year or less of losing the natural tooth, and get worse over time. For this reason, the standard of care for replacing missing teeth is dental implants, and bridges are reserved only for scenarios when implants are not a viable solution.
The vast majority of dental plans cover dental bridges under the major services category. Coverage is typically in the 50-70% range. The office of Dr. Mazen Natour will handle all insurance matters for its patients. Please call us if you have any questions about your coverage.