Restoring Missing Teeth With a Bridge
When teeth are missing, a bridge can be a very effective option. A bridge replaces a missing tooth, or multiple teeth, by suspending replacements between two supports. These supports can either be natural teeth or implants. And once placed, a dental bridge nicely restores the aesthetics and chewing function of the missing teeth. There are a few important differences between bridges supported by natural teeth versus dental implants that must be considered before deciding which treatment is best for you.
Bridges supported by natural teeth utilize the teeth on either side of the empty space. These teeth are modified or prepared the same way as if there were receiving a single crown. This part of the treatment is completed at the first appointment, along with impressions and records that are sent to the dental laboratory, and placement of a temporary bridge. The lab then fabricates the final bridge, which is bonded to the supporting teeth during the second appointment. One of most popular benefits of bridges supported by natural teeth is this short, two appointment treatment time. From start to finish, you can generally have the final bridge within two weeks.
Bridges supported by dental implants do not need natural teeth for support. This option is utilized when the span of missing teeth is too great of a distance to be supported by natural teeth. Implants are placed on either side of the empty space and require time to heal before a bridge can be placed. There are several factors that determine how long of a healing period is needed. This depends on the quality and amount of bone available for the implants to be placed in. In the event there is copious bone that is of high density, then the final bridge can be placed sooner. However if the bone is poor density or requires grafting, then more time is needed before the final bridge can be placed. Once the implants are healed however, they are very strong and are excellent anchor supports for the bridge. Similar to the steps for a natural tooth supported bridge, impressions and records are sent to the lab and a temporary bridge can be placed until the final bridge is completed.
Due to the benefits and compromises with each bridge type, and the need to have adequate periodontal health before either treatment is performed, a thorough evaluation is needed to determine what treatment option would be best for your condition.
Tooth Supported Bridge
This single missing tooth was replaced with a 3-unit bridge supported by the two adjacent teeth. After over 20 years, the prior bridge needed to be removed and replaced.
Implant Supported Bridge
When the space between adjacent natural teeth is too great to allow a tooth supported bridge, implants can be used as a solution. In this case, the lower 4 incisors were lost to periodontal disease leaving a large distance between the adjacent canine teeth. After the teeth were removed, the area was prepared for implant placement with bone and soft tissue grafting to correct the defects resulting from the periodontal disease. Once the grafted tissues were healed, implants were placed and restored with a bridge