The Dental Bridge procedure is used when a dental piece has been lost and it is necessary to replace it.
To compose a Dental Bridge you need two or more adjacent teeth at both sides of the empty space you wish to restore. We call these adjacent pieces pillars, and they need to have the same characteristics required for dental crowns (for further information check our article on Dental Crowns) and the space is called pontic. Dental bridges had more relevance in the past, when the possibility of replacing lost teeth with dental implants didn´t exist. However, that does not imply they are obsolete, since they can be a very suitable option in patients that for medical, anatomical, or reasons of any sort are not candidates for dental implants.
The process of making a dental bridge consists of an average of 4 appointments scheduled once a week. There is a chance we might be able to schedule these appointments every 3 days, in cases the patient does not have more time.
On the first appointment the teeth that are to be the pillars are prepared, which implies wearing of the dental structure. Sometimes a nerve treatment is recommended with a post and reconstruction. This additional step can be considered previously or during the stage when the provisionals are used. It is not strange to implement changes to the treatment during the provisional stage, in order to obtain a predictable and successful outcome. On this same appointment, if it is decided, the final molds are taken and sent to the lab.
On the second appointment, the structure that serves as support for the porcelain is tested. This structure can be made of the same materials dental crowns are made from. Those are: metal, porcelain or zirconium. For further information on how to decide which structure is recommended according to the case, please look into our article on Dental Crowns, in which we deal with more detail on the materials and their use. The goal of this appointment is to test the adjustment of the structure towards the pillar teeth, in order to avoid discrepancies and to assure the joint of the pieces is as close as possible. For this we take x-rays, in order to assess the adjustment.
For the third appointment, we program the aesthetic test. For this appointment the bridge will be ready in almost an 80%. The only thing it will be missing is the last layer of gloss, which will give it its final color. What we need to evaluate is the shape, color and adjustment. The first two parameters are guided by the patient, and the third one is a collaboration between the patient and the doctor. On this appointment changes can be made and if they are small; in 90% of the times, the piece can be ready for the attachment appointment 24 hours later. If changes are significant, another aesthetic test is recommended to correct and adjust whatever is necessary.
The fourth appointment is for attaching the piece. We have already approved the shape, color and adjustment of the bridge and will proceed to place it definitively on the mouth. At Advance Dental Costa Rica we like to schedule a fifth appointment for control. On this appointment we assess the bridge after a week of use and we ask the patient how has she or he felt with the restoration. Small adjustments can be made on this appointment, if they are necessary.
What is the highest failure factor in bridges? It is cavity formation underneath the bridge which can occur if the patient does not schedule a control appointment every 6 months with a professional who can evaluate the state of the restoration and who can give follow up to its performance.
Pros and cons of a bridge vs. an implant?
To restore a space on the mouth we can use both bridges and implants. Here is a guide on the pros and cons.
- The bridge does not have a surgical component and can be a solution for people who are medically compromised and who cannot have surgery, like patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, people with immune system compromises, smokers, and patients with diabetes or hypertension that are not controlled.
- The time it takes to finish the procedure is shorter, since it is not necessary to wait till the implant has healed, which can take up to 4 or 6 months.
- To place the bridge it is necessary to wear off the adjacent pieces which many times are intact or only have minor restorations. It is not as conservative in regard of keeping natural teeth intact.
- The life span of an implant is higher than that of a bridge. According to studies, a bridge can last from 5 to 8 years before it needs to be replaced. An implant can last up to 10 to 15 years without too much trouble.
At Advance Dental Costa Rica we can advice you on how to recover lost teeth. Nowadays, there are a great number of solutions at the grasp of your hands. Call us and request information, so that we can give you some ideas on how to get your smile back.