A bridge is a dental restoration that replaces or spans the space where one or more teeth have been lost. The loss of a tooth may cause your mouth to “sink” from loss of the bone that supported the tooth. Remaining teeth can also shift. The result may be lost function and a face that looks older than it should. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks and helps maintain the natural shape of your face.
If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be particularly self-conscious about your appearance. When teeth are missing, it’s difficult to chew. Teeth work together. When a tooth is lost, the nearby teeth may tilt into the empty space. The teeth in the opposite jaw may shift up or down toward the space. This can affect your bite and place unusual stress on your teeth. Chewing on one side only may cause extra stress on your jaw joints. A missing tooth also results in “shrinking” of the jawbone. This can change how the lips or cheeks are supported. Teeth that have tipped or drifted are often difficult to clean. This makes them more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. In the long run, more teeth may be lost.
A fixed bridge is commonly cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by missing teeth. A false tooth (pontic) replaces the lost tooth or teeth. A pontic is attached to a crown (a restoration that covers a tooth). Crowns, which are cemented on natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.