A porcelain fixed bridge is a non-removable dental appliance. Bridges (both fixed and removable) have been used for many years, and have proven to be an excellent way to replace damaged or missing teeth.
There are a number of varieties of bridges. Your dentist will discuss the various options with you, and help you determine what is best for your particular case. The most popular type – the “traditional bridge” is generally made of porcelain fused to a metal foundation. Because of their strong resemblance to natural teeth, porcelain fixed bridges are the most popular option.
A Porcelain fixed bridge consists of two crowns that are attached to the “anchoring teeth” (also called “abutment teeth”) at each end of the gap. The metal bridge is securely mounted to these caps, and is the foundation to which the “pontics” (artificial teeth) are attached. When the bridge is in place, it fills the gap that was created by the loss of one or more missing teeth.
Dental bridges are quite durable. With reasonable care and maintenance, they will last for many years. You should realize, though, that like natural teeth and all dental appliances, they are subject to wear and damage. Over time, they may need to be adjusted, re-cemented, or replaced.
Getting a bridge will require a minimum of two (or more) visits. Your dentist will anesthetize the two anchoring teeth and adjacent gum area. A precise impression (mold) will be made which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the bridge will be fabricated. While the abutment teeth are numb, they will be prepared by removing a portion of enamel. This is necessary to allow space for the new crowns
At this time, temporary crowns and a temporary bridge will be made. These caps will protect the modified anchor teeth. The temporary appliance will be worn for several weeks until your next appointment.
During your second visit, the temporary appliance will be removed and your new permanent bridge will be closely checked, adjusted as needed, and cemented in place. On some occasions, your dentist may elect to temporarily cement the bridge, thereby allowing your teeth and gum tissue time to get used to your new bridge.
When your mouth is fully healed and acclimated to the new bridge, any necessary final adjustments will be made and the bridge will be permanently cemented in place.
You will be given detailed care instructions when the temporary bridge is placed, as well as at the conclusion of your treatment. As with natural teeth and all forms of dental appliances, proper hygiene practices, (brushing, flossing) and regular dental visits will help to extend the life of your porcelain fixed bridge.