A bridge is a dental device that fills a space that a tooth previously occupied. A bridge may be necessary to prevent shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and resultant periodontal disease. Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile. Bridges replace teeth that have existing, surrounding teeth.
There are two main types of bridges:
- A fixed bridge is the most popular and consists of a filler tooth that is attached to two crowns, which fit over the existing teeth and hold the bridge in place. This replaces the missing tooth and works as long as the missing tooth is surrounded by natural teeth or implants. You can still get a cavity at the edge of a bridge, so daily flossing and good brushing are essential to longevity.
- The “Maryland” bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth and consists of a fake tooth that is attached to metal bands that are bonded to the supporting, adjacent teeth. A “Carolina” bridge is made of all white materials, with the same basic concept. This is often a good option for teenagers who may be missing a tooth, but are not yet old enough for a dental implant.