A bridge (also called a fixed partial denture) is a restoration that replaces or spans the space where one or more teeth have been lost. There are two types of bridges --- fixed and removable. A fixed bridge is bonded or cemented into place – only a dentist can remove it.
As its name describes, a removable bridge (more commonly known as a removable partial denture) readily can be taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Although removable bridges generally are less expensive, fixed bridges may feel more stable and comfortable.
Your appearance, dental health and the proper functioning of your mouth are all important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps maintain the natural shape of your face and may help support your lips and cheeks.
More important, though, your dental health may suffer when teeth are not replaced. Teeth work together. 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 both the teeth and gums. These factors can lead to discomfort, bite discrepancy, or even tooth loss. Furthermore, missing teeth also can affect the way you chew and speak. Chewing on one side only may cause stress on other teeth and jaw joint, also known as the TMJ.
It is very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy. A bridge or any restoration for that matter can lose its support if the surrounding teeth or the jawbone that holds it becomes damaged by gum disease. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and clean between the teeth and under your bridge with floss. Remember, the ultimate success or failure of a fixed bridge depends on its foundation. Help keep your gums and remaining teeth healthy. Your oral health and your appearance are worth the effort.
We have examples of bridges and dentures in our photo section.