Dental bridges are used to replace teeth that are missing from the mouth. Bridges are used in cases where one or more teeth are missing from an area of the mouth that is between two healthy teeth. The healthy teeth at each end of the gap in the gums will act as anchors for the artificial bridge. Alternately, dental implants can be placed in the mouth and used as anchors in cases where the remaining natural teeth are not sufficient.
Individuals who are good candidates for dental bridges will have two strong and healthy teeth in the mouth on each side of the area where teeth are missing. These teeth must have a strong root. People who have problems with their teeth that might require a procedure like a root canal in the future are not good candidates for dental bridges because the teeth could become infected or lose their strength and become damaged over time.
A person who does not have healthy teeth near the area to be bridged could be eligible for dental implants. Implants are artificial anchors that are set in the gums. Receiving implants can take many weeks or months depending on the person. Implants require healthy bones and gums and are permanent once placed in the mouth.
The process of receiving dental bridges starts with the dentist sculpting the existing teeth so that they can be fitted for crowns. This usually involves removing most of the outer tooth leaving only the core. A mold is made of the teeth and then sent to an outside laboratory where the bridge is made so that it fits exactly over the sculpted teeth. The artificial teeth are between the anchor crowns and can be exactingly adjusted for color and texture to match the surrounding teeth.
The final stage of receiving a dental bridge involves permanently bonding the crowns to the teeth. This is done with a special dental resin. The entire procedure requires two visits to the dentist. Temporary crowns might be placed in the mouth between visits while the dental bridge is being made to protect the teeth. Dental bridges can last for many years or decades with proper oral hygiene.