Dental Bridge Procedure – A Quick Guide To What’s Involved

A dental bridge is one of the dental treatments used to replace missing teeth.  Bridges are fixed into the mouth by attaching them to neighboring teeth.  But what is involved in a getting a bridge?  We will here give a brief run-through of what to expect with the dental bridge procedure.

 

Assessment and ‘Foundation’ Work Before Bridgework

As for any dental treatment, the first step of a dental bridge procedure is an assessment of the area.  In order to decide if a bridge is appropriate and choose the design of the bridge, the dentist will examine the area, take X-rays and make up casts of the teeth. If bridgework is decided upon, the teeth that will hold the bridge may need some work prior to the bridge being made…

For example, you may need a root canal on one of the teeth, so this will be carried out before the bridge is started.  If a tooth to be bridged is very weak and/or has been root treated, it may first need built up with a new foundation or ‘core’ before the bridge can be made.  The core may include a post, which is placed in the root canal of the tooth.  The post helps hold the core and therefore the bridge in place.  This building up of the core is often done on a separate visit, before the tooth is prepared for a bridge.

 

These two teeth have been prepared, to make the necessary room for a bridge

These two teeth have been prepared, to make the necessary room for a bridge

Preparing the Neighboring Teeth to Hold the Bridge

Once any foundation work has been completed, an appointment is needed to prepare the teeth.  A bridge is held in place by one or both of the teeth either-side of the gap.  These teeth need to be re-shaped to hold the bridge. The dental bridge procedure involves the following:

"An image of a dental bridge made on a model cast."

A dental bridge is made on a model cast.

  • Local anesthetic is applied around the teeth.  While the anesthetic is getting to work, your dentist may take molds of the teeth.
  • When the area is numb, the teeth in question are filed down.  They are re-shaped to the required size as to make the space for the bridge.  Preparing teeth involves a high degree of skill, and can take up to an hour (or more) depending on the size of the bridge.
  • Once the preparation is complete, a mold (‘impression’) of the area is then taken. The mold is taken using a rubber putty material.  The impression mold is sent to a dental laboratory, where a technician uses it to make the bridge.
  • It can take around two weeks for the bridge to be made.  Your dentist will fit a temporary bridge at the end of this visit.  This temporary will protect the prepared teeth and fill the gap in the interim period before the bridge is fitted.  You will need to take care not to bite hard or eat any chewy or hard foods on the temporary.

Fitting the Bridge

  • Local anesthetic is again applied, if necessary, before the treatment is started.
  • First off, the temporary bridge is removed and the underlying teeth cleaned up.
  • The new bridge is cemented into place on the teeth, once you and your dentist are both happy with how it looks and fits.  A few final adjustments may be needed, for example to the bite.  Your dentist will show you how to look after the bridge, including how to clean under it.  How well you clean under the bridge is an important factor in how long it will last.

 

Alternative Method Using Computer-Aided Manufacture

Some dentists have invested in machinery which makes the bridge on the same day as the teeth are shaped.  This machine uses CAD/CAM technology (computer-aided design/manufacturing technology).  The bridge is made from a block of ceramic.  The machine makes this into a bridge using a scan of the filed teeth and the gap between.  The bridge is made and fitted shortly after the teeth are filed down.  Thus the treatment is carried out in one visit only.

 

"Image of tooth crowns and bridge"

Dental bridge procedure complete and bridgework in place.. Hard to spot?

This article has given you a brief run-through of what to expect with a dental bridge procedure. You are now hopefully somewhat wiser as to what getting dental bridgework involves.  Go back to our main article on dental bridges here , or return home here.

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