Why Do I Need a Bridge?

The bridge restores your bite and helps keep the natural shape of your face.

This brochure will review the steps involved in making your bridge. Your dentist can recommend which type of bridge is best for you based on your specific needs.

According to the American Dental Association

Facial Collapse with and without tooth replacement

Teeth diagram with 1 tooth missing

Position of teeth immediately after a tooth is lost.

Teeth diagram with teeth labeled with arrows to show shift

If the tooth is not replaced, other teeth can drift out of position and change the bite.

Why you need a bridge

A missing tooth is a serious matter. Teeth are made to work together. When you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth may tilt or drift into the empty space. Your teeth in the opposite jaw may also shift up or down into the space. This can affect your bite and place more stress on your teeth and jaw joints, possibly causing pain and damage.

Teeth that have tipped or drifted are also harder to clean. This puts them at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

When a tooth is missing, the bone may shrink. If that happens, it may change the way the jawbone supports the lips and cheeks. Over time, this can make your face look older.

Bottom jaw with tooth missing diagram

Missing tooth

Diagram of replacing tooth with conventional three-unit bridge

To replace a missing tooth with a conventional three-unit bridge, teeth next to the gap are reduced.

Diagram of custom-made bridge on tooth

The custom-made bridge is placed over the prepared teeth.

Full set of teeth

After adjustments are made, the bridge is cemented into place.

How a fixed bridge is placed

A fixed bridge means that your dentist uses existing natural teeth on both sides of your missing tooth (or teeth) to help hold your bridge in place. Placing a bridge usually takes more than one dental visit.

  • On the first visit, your dentist prepares the teeth on both sides of the gap. The bridge will attach to those teeth.
  •  Your dentist then makes an impression or an image of your teeth and the space. That information is sent to a dental laboratory where lab technicians follow your dentist’s instructions and make the bridge.
  • Your dentist will place a temporary bridge to protect your prepared teeth while you are waiting for the permanent bridge.
  • When the permanent bridge is ready, your dentist fits, adjusts and cements the bridge to the prepared teeth. This type of bridge is permanent and cannot be taken out of your mouth without a dentist’s help.
Diagram of a few teeth missing

Missing teeth

A bridge being placed on implants

A bridge is placed on implants

Diagram of teeth after bridge is placed

After the bridge is placed

Implant-supported bridge

Dental implants may be used to support a bridge. Implants are posts that are surgically placed into the jaw. Bone will hold the implants in place.

  • A key benefit of implants is that they don’t need support from the surrounding teeth.
  • Candidates for dental implants should be in good general health and have enough bone to support an implant. For some people, implants can help preserve the jawbone where teeth have been lost.
  • Implants may be placed in one day or might require multiple visits depending on your dentist’s treatment plan.

 

What materials are used in a bridge?

Bridges are made from metal, ceramics, or a combination of the two. Your dentist will talk with you about the materials that are best for you and your mouth.

Flossing with the bridge

Using a floss threader, insert floss under the bridge.

Flossing with a bridge

Gently rub the side of each tooth next to the bridge with the floss, cleaning under the gum, too.

Flossing with a bridge

Rub the floss from side to side along the underside of the pontic.

Caring for your bridge

A bridge can fail if the support teeth or the jawbone is damaged by dental disease. Follow these tips for good oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss or use another between-the-teeth cleaner every day. Brushing and cleaning between your teeth helps remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that is always forming on the teeth.
  •  Always clean between your teeth and under the bridge. There are many kinds of flossers, picks, or little brushes. Your dentist will help you decide which is best for your bridge.
  • See your dentist regularly for exams and professional cleanings.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  •  Look for oral care products that display the ADA Seal of Acceptance. These products are scientifically proven to be safe and effective in keeping your mouth healthy. 
 

This ADA educational message displayed by permission.

American Dental Assoication

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