Sometimes we hear the terms “Fixed Bridge”, Removable Bridge or Bridge as a dental treatment option, but do not fully understand their meanings. Following are some general characteristics of these procedures.
A bridge, as you might suspect, is similar to a bridge used to cross a river. In dentistry, a bridge crosses through a space in the mouth and replaces one or several missing teeth. The technical term is fixed partial prosthesis. This is a device that replaces missing teeth in a fixed manner.
When a small number of teeth are missing in a particular area of the mouth, they can be replaced using anchorage on neighboring teeth. These teeth are usually reduced as if they were going to receive a crown; the prosthesis with the missing tooth is attached to the bridge and is cemented to the abutments. Thus, it cannot be removed.
Other ways to replace missing teeth involve the use of a removable partial denture (removable bridge) or dental implants. The type of restoration will depend on several factors, including the size of the space, the condition of potential abutment teeth, hygiene, financial and esthetic considerations. Your dentist will provide you with alternatives and help choose the best option for you.
Today, these restorations are made of diverse materials, usually ceramic or metals covered with ceramic. Your dentist will also guide you in this selection.
Once a decision is made to replace one or several missing teeth with a fixed bridge, your dentist will circumferentially reduce the abutment teeth adjacent to the space. He will then take an impression, or mold, of your teeth and place a temporary restoration, usually made out of plastic, to improve function until your restoration is complete. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory that will fabricate the restoration. Finally, the dentist will cement the bridge permanently in your mouth, restoring function and esthetics of the involved teeth.