A bridge is a dental appliance that replaces one or more natural missing teeth. It does this by fixing the replacement teeth ('pontic teeth') to the natural teeth at each side of the gap (called the 'abutment teeth'). The abutment part of a bridge is essentially a crown that is cemented onto the abutment tooth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient.

Bridges can be made up of a variety of materials and have various designs:

The most common type bridge is the 'conventional bridge', which is attached to the abutment teeth by crowns, and has one or more pontic teeth attached. Sometimes only one abutment is needed; this is called a 'cantilever bridge'. This is used where the gap is small and only one pontic tooth is needed to fill the space. The materials used for these bridges can be all porcelain, porcelain fused to a precious metal framework, or fibre-reinforced composite.

Often we would prefer not to drill the healthy abutment teeth to accommodate a conventional bridge. In this case the resin bonded or "Maryland" bridge can be used. This is primarily used for replacing missing front teeth. The pontic is joined to flattened wings that can be bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin cement and hidden from view. The advantages of this type of bridge is that very little drilling needs to be done to the abutment teeth and because the treatment and laboratory time is less, it is a cheaper bridge alternative. The disadvantages are that occasionally these bridges can become dislodged and need to be recemented, and the abutment tooth may appear darker as a result of the 'wing' which is bonded to the back of it. These 'Maryland' bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal alloy; the latest examples are made of fibre-reinforced composite materials.

Restore missing teeth with dental bridges in Crawley
Smilecare Dental Centre, 45 Furnace Drive, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 6JD
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