What are Dental Bridges?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis — an artificial replacement part — that fills the gap left by a missing tooth and is supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terminology, the artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The neighboring healthy teeth — called abutments — support the pontic from either side. The completed prosthesis spans the gap in your teeth just like a bridge over a canyon.
The teeth that will become the abutments must be prepared to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” This procedure is performed in the same manner as if the teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage.
The outer layer of enamel on the abutment teeth is stripped so that the crown completely covers them while still looking lifelike and preserving the appearance of your mouth. Three connected crowns will be placed to replace one missing tooth, one on either side of the gap in your smile (the abutments) with a pontic in the empty space between.
Building a Bridge
As detailed above, if you are missing one tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This configuration is known as a three-unit bridge.
If several teeth are missing, more crowns and more abutment teeth will be required to support the bridge. Your dentist calculates this number by considering how many teeth are missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and the location in the mouth where the bridge is being placed.
Therefore, if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing the bridge requires Dr. Hess to have an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth.
Dental Bridges in Charlotte, NC
If you are in the Charlotte, NC area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with Dr. Hess or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call 704.240.5045 or schedule online with us today.