Missing Teeth: Dental Bridges

Part 2 of a 3-Part series

The American College of Prosthodontists, reports that nearly 180 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. What’s more, about 40 million Americans are missing even more than one of their pearly whites. Furthermore, as we age, the problem worsens. In fact, 30 percent of adults between 65-74 years old have no natural teeth. The good news? In 2022, options abound. Last week, we started a three-week series which examines three solutions to missing teeth. Last week, we covered dentures. Click here to read that post. This week, we’ll focus on bridges. Then, next week, we will tackle the final solution to missing teeth – implants.

What is a Dental Bridge

In architecture, a bridge is a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, railroad or another obstacle. On a ship, the bridge is an elevated platform from which the captain and officers direct operations. In dentistry, a bridge literally bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. 

Mind the Gap

If you’ve lost one or more teeth, the resulting gap can cause various problems. Remaining teeth can shift, causing bite dysfunction. A dental bridge fills this gap, preventing such a shift. A dental bridge also strengthens adjoining teeth. Teeth support each other, and a missing tooth results in missing support. In addition to restoring bite and strengthening tooth structure, bridges offer aesthetic value. Modern dental bridges closely mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Therefore, dental bridges restore the patient’s smile and confidence.

When is a Bridge a Good Option?

When someone loses a tooth and healthy teeth remain on both sides of the newly missing tooth or teeth, a fixed bridge is a viable treatment option. Other options include dentures, as we discussed in a previous post, or implants, which we will focus on next week. 

How to Construct a Bridge

The procedure for creating a fixed bridge is essentially the same as creating a crown except that a fixed bridge involves at least two supporting teeth. What can cause confusion is the number of teeth required for a fixed bridge. To replace one missing tooth requires a three-tooth bridge. This is because the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth must be part of the bridge to provide support.

Structure of a Fixed Bridge

Fixed bridges are typically made from porcelain. They contain a metal sub-structure and require at least two appointments to complete. The dentist uses the first appointment to prepare and temporize the teeth. At the second appointment, he delivers the bridge and adjusts and cements the fixed bridge into place. Occasionally, the dentist may require a third appointment. This is needed if the span of the bridge is long and the supporting framework for the bridge should be tested before the porcelain is applied to the framework.

Check back next week when we conclude this series by focusing on the final solution for missing teeth: implants. 

About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California

Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.