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Bridge

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“Bridge” is the jargon term for a fixed dental prosthesis in which at least two teeth are fitted with a crown and connected with one or two links. Here, you see a three-unit bridge in the upper left corner; in this case, the structure is made of gold.

In the center, you see an illustration of how the gap in the teeth is closed with this bridge; below it, you can see the bridge as it’s seen from the outside. Normally, the pontic is bounded on the left and right by teeth serving as abutments. Blocking individual teeth, i.e., if there’s no gap in the teeth, is not necessary.

The dental technician and the dentist are spared work by blocking the crowns, but that presents disadvantages for you. So a blocking of teeth only makes sense if teeth are missing, namely, to bridge the gap in the teeth with a link! Sometimes, overhanging bridges are made, i.e., two neighboring teeth are blocked and an end link is left hanging over.

Such constructions are legitimate if they are prepared towards the front, i.e., away from the jaw joint and with no more than one tooth as the overhanging link. Towards the rear, i.e., towards the jaw joint (e.g., as a replacement for a molar), such bridges make no sense.

The highest chewing pressures are found in the posterior region, as with scissors; this is the reason why molars have such massive roots. The high chewing pressures act on the overhanging link and, in combination with the leverage effect, the abutment teeth are exposed to severe stress – bone resorption and damage to the teeth over a number of years is the result.

Also, bridges should not be constructed with spans that are too long. This, too, leads to excessive stress on the abutment tooth and thus to the loss of teeth; in most cases, years later. More and more, the trend is towards realistic reconstructions.

Thus, gaps in the teeth are more and more frequently closed with artificial dental roots (implants) – a blocking of teeth as in the classic bridge is less and less necessary; more on that topic in the video “Implants.” There are huge differences in the execution of bridges; more specifically, in the way teeth are cut.

That’s why some bridges last 30 or more years, while others only last a couple of years! For the important aspects concerning bridges – i.e., why gums often recede with bad bridges – check out the video “Crown!” A good bridge doesn’t cause any inflammation and/or recession of the gums. If it’s not recognizable and lasts for several decades – even if the bridge has to be replaced at some point, the tooth stumps underneath it should still be fine.

Video bridge.

Bridge