What is a dental bridge or fixed partial denture?
A dental bridge (also called a fixed partial denture) is a restoration that replaces or spans that space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed dental bridge is bonded or cemented into place. A removable dental bridge can be readily taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Although removable dental bridges generally are less expensive, fixed dental bridges may feel more stable and comfortable.
What are some reasons why I would need a dental bridge?
Your appearance, dental health and the proper functioning of your mouth are all important reason for wearing a dental bridge. A dental bridge helps maintain the natural shape of your face and my help support your lips and cheeks. It can also help you maintain a more youthful appearance. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
More importantly, though, your dental health may suffer when teeth are not replaced. Teeth work together so when a tooth is lost, the nearby teeth may tilt toward the empty space or the teeth in the opposite jaw may shift up or down toward the space. This can alter your bite and place unusual stress on the bone, the teeth and tissues in your mouth.
In addition, due to the increased stress, the gum tissues and the bone that hold teeth in place can break down from the resulting gum disease. Teeth that have tipped are difficult to clean, making them more likely to decay. As a result, even more teeth may eventually be lost.
Three main types of dental bridges:
- Fixed Dental Bridge: this is a permanent option that places a prosthetic or “pontic” tooth in place of the extracted tooth and anchors it with additional crowns on either side.
- Removable Dental Bridge: An appliance that has the prosthetic teeth attached to a “palate” and can be easily inserted and removed for cleaning.
- Implant Dental Bridge: Artificial teeth are attached directly to the jaw or under the gum tissue. A "post" is placed in the jaw or gum and a crown is placed over the top. Implants are the most intense of the three options and requires strong bone structure and dedication to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
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