Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth. There are two main types of dental bridges: 1. Fixed Bridges 2. Removable Bridges. Fixed bridges ( fixed partial denture) are cemented or bonded in place by the dentist and are intended to stay in place long term. Removable bridges (removable partial denture) can be removed at anytime by the patient. In general, patients usually prefer dental work that is fixed but there are benefits to both types of bridges.
If you are missing teeth and the space between the remaining teeth is not too long then a fixed bridge can be placed. This is accomplished by preparing the adjacent teeth for crowns. These teeth will support the bridge and are called abutment teeth. Placing a fixed bridge is very beneficial when these abutment teeth need crowns anyway. Fixed bridges are made from similar material and in a similar way as a crown.
A removable partial is beneficial when multiple teeth are missing and the spaces between the remaining teeth are wide . Also, if there is no support tooth behind the space, a removable partial would be an option. The drawback to a removable partial is that some patients do not tolerate them well because it is not as natural feeling as a fixed bridge. In these cases or if the patient does not want anything removable, dental implants would be a possible option.
WHY REPLACE MISSING TEETH?
When a tooth is removed, changes occur in the mouth that can be detrimental to your oral health. Adjacent teeth and opposing teeth can shift into the space. This can make cleaning the teeth difficult which increases the chances of getting a cavity or developing gum disease. If the shifting is extreme, then sometimes these teeth need removal. The more teeth that are lost result in higher bite forces on the remaining teeth. This leads to more wear and fractures. Changes in the occlusion (bite) can lead to problems with the jaw joint (TMJ) and the associated muscles. These problems can be prevented by replacing the missing teeth.