For as long as people have been losing and extracting teeth, we’ve been trying to come up with ways to replace them. One of the earliest known methods, found in Egyptian mummies as old as 4,000 years, are dental bridges.

We’ve come a long way since those earliest examples, but the purpose of a dental bridge has remained the same: to replace one or more missing teeth in a row.

What Are Dental Bridges?

As the name suggests, a dental bridge is a prosthetic that literally “bridges” the gap between two teeth.

The prosthetic itself is made up of several dental crowns fused together in a row. The crowns at the ends of the bridge are used to hold the bridge in place, while the crowns in the middle replace the missing tooth or teeth.

Dental crowns are made out of a variety of materials. These can be of porcelain, metal allow, or even gold. Sometimes a combination of materials is used for the best results.

How Are Dental Bridges Supported?

There are two main ways to support a dental bridge:

The most common is to use the remaining healthy teeth on either side of the gap. These teeth have their enamel shaved down so the crowns on either end of the bridge can be fixed on top of them.

An option growing in popularity is to use dental implants to support a bridge instead. This is ideal when there are three or more teeth in a row missing. The two teeth at either end are replaced with dental implants, and the bridge is placed on top of these.

This saves the dentist from having to work on otherwise healthy teeth, which is generally preferred.

Implant-supported dentures have a tendency to be more durable and last for longer than their traditional counterparts.

What Are the Benefits?

Dental bridges work to restore both the look and function of your mouth. Benefits include:

• Restoring the ability to eat, chew, and speak properly.
• Restoring your smile and maintaining the natural shape of your face.
• Restoring an even distribution of your bite force. This prevents you favoring one side of your mouth and damaging the rest of your teeth.
• Prevents “drifting” of the teeth on either side of the gap.

What’s The Procedure Like?

First the teeth that will support the bridge — the “abutment teeth” — need to be prepared. This will either involve shaving down the healthy teeth on either side of the gap, or installing the implants. The goal is to make an ideal foundation for the rest of the bridge.

Impressions are made of the mouth and a cast is made. This cast allows the dentist and technicians to properly design and build the crown to fit your mouth precisely.

You’ll first receive a temporary crown while the final version is fabricated. Once the final version has been finished you’ll have a series of fittings. These are to ensure the bridge fits comfortably and properly so it doesn’t come loose or cause damage.

You may need several fittings before the bridge is finalized. It’s important to get this step right, or risk spending time and money fixing errors later.

Lastly, the bridge is cemented in place or securely attached to the implants.