A bridge is a prosthetic device that replaces one or more missing teeth. If you have a gap left by one or more missing teeth, the remaining teeth will gradually shift into the empty space(s). This can increase your risk of gum disease and poor bite alignment. It can even cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and result in headaches and jaw pain. Most bridges are cemented into place, although occasionally one is made to be removable.
A bridge is made to span the space where your tooth or teeth are missing. They are usually cemented to the natural teeth next to the open space, although they may also be cemented to dental implants. The teeth are called abutments and serve to anchor the bridge in place. The dentist attaches a replacement tooth (called a pontic) to the bridge. A removable dental bridge (sometimes called a partial plate) functions in the same way but can be taken out when necessary.
Bridges can be made of porcelain/ceramic or resin, and can be matched to the color of your other teeth. However, they cannot be whitened, so if you also plan to have this cosmetic treatment, it should be done before the bridge is installed. The cost, aesthetic considerations, and function of the bridge should be discussed with your dentist before you make a decision about which materials to use. Removable dental bridges also have some metal components that provide support and allow the bridge to be attached to the remaining natural teeth.
You care for a bridge just as you do your natural teeth: daily flossing and twice-a-day brushing. See your dentist for regular checkups. A removable bridge can be taken out for cleaning. Although the artificial teeth on a bridge will stand up to normal wear and tear, it's important to remember that a bridge can break. Don't use your teeth as tools. You shouldn't chew ice or foods like hard candies.
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