Your guide to dental bridges
A tooth consists of the crown and the roots. When a tooth is damaged it is often repaired with a filling. However, in cases where the damage is so great and dental filling is insufficient, a new crown is attached to the tooth.
In cases, where the tooth is badly damaged that the dental crown cannot be fixed, the tooth must be removed. However, in such cases, dental tooth implants or dental bridges are the only methods that can fully restore appearance and function. On this page you can read more about dental bridges.
A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration, replacing one or more teeth. Dental bridges are attached to the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth spaces.
When is a dental bridge necessary?
In order to replace lost teeth with a dental bridge, there must be enough teeth left in the mouth to provide a secure fixture for the dental bridge. The space between the remaining teeth cannot be too wide in terms of strength and durability.
If the abutment teeth have large restorations or damage, a bridge is often a good option since dentist will most likely file down the healthy teeth. However, if the abutment teeth are perfectly healthy, not damaged and does not require repair, a dental implant may be a better option. Treatment of healthy teeth is preferably avoided.
An alternative to a normal dental bridge can be a so called resin-bonded bridge or Maryland-bonded bridge that is fused to metal bands that are then bonded to the back of the teeth using resin. Therefore a resin-bonded bridge leaves the supporting teeth virtually untouched. Unfortunately a resin-bonded bridge can losen more easily than a normal dental bridge. Resin-bonded/Maryland-bonded bridges are often used as temporary solutions prior to dental bridges.
The dental bridge procedure
A dental bridge procedure will require at least two visits to the dentist. The first one involves tooth preparation prior to the installation of the dental bridge and the second visit is when the dental bridge is put into place.
1. Preparatory treatment
The aim of the preparatory treatment is to rub down the adjacent teeth in order to create a good fixture for the dental bridge. Then an imprint and colour analysis is performed.
In many cases the supportive teeth are often in such condition that greater preparatory measures are necessary. Sometimes an old root filling needs to be redone, or if the tooth’s nerve is damaged then a root filling will be needed.
In some cases there is not enough tooth left in order to attach a dental crown to the supporting teeth. This will require using a splint. A splint replaces the lack of tooth and is cemented into the root in order to provide sufficient support for a dental crown.
Often the preparatory treatment is finished off with the dentist applying a temporary replacement that the patients will wear until it is time to install the permanent dental bridge.
The imprint of the teeth, gap and surrounding tissue is sent to a dental technological laboratory that will construct the dental bridge.
Dental bridges are made of either porcelain material and/or metal (gold, titanium) with porcelain bonding.
Porcelain dental bridges have aesthetical and biological advantages. They are better accepted by the mouth and the porcelain offers an appearance that practically looks like normal teeth.
The problem with entirely ceramic dental bridges is that they break easier than those built onto a metal frame. However, today there are new ceramic materials that often replace the metal found in dental bridges. The most well-known is Zirconium which had been proven to work as well as the metal based dental bridges.
2. Installing the dental bridge
After two weeks, once the dental bridge has been manufactured, you will then be scheduled for another appointment. The dentist will try in your new bridge, making sure it fits correctly, if the fit is satisfactory, the fixed bridge will be cemented to the adjacent teeth.
In some cases, the dentist will place a temporary bridge to see if it is the right fit, shape, and colour.
Depending on the material used, proper oral hygiene, care of the mouth, and status of adjacent teeth, the average life span of a bridge is 15 years. In many cases, bridges can last even longer.
Cost of dental bridges
A dental bridge will cost somewhere between £300- £900 in the UK. The price varies depending on how many teeth are involved, the type of bridge used, experience of the dental practitioner, materials used, and the clinic fees.
Dental bridges are available at the NHS and cost up to £222.50, but only if there is a medical need. However, procedure that aims to improve the appearance must be privately funded.
For those who don’t have the opportunity to pay in cash, it is possible to take out loans for cosmetic dentistry. You can read more about it on the page about financing health care and treatments.