Dental bridges are one option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. A bridge is fabricated to look like the missing tooth, and it takes its place in the mouth. The sides of a bridge use at least one tooth on either side of the missing tooth for support to “bridge” the gap.
If the teeth on either side of an empty space have suffered fractures because of the increased stress from a missing tooth, a bridge is an excellent option to reinforce those breaking teeth and replace the missing tooth all in one simple procedure.
The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or aesthetics.
Careful consideration must be taken to ensure the teeth supporting the bridge are strong and healthy enough to support the extra forces from increasing the chewing surface they now carry. Ongoing care is especially critical for keeping the teeth healthy and addressing any issues as early as possible.
Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing, they start to “fall” and encroach on the empty space. As this worsens, the bite changes because of the shifting teeth. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw, such as TMJ.
The surrounding teeth may then deteriorate and are more likely to crack or break because of the increased force that chewing places on them. Gum disease may also become a problem as the teeth shift, making it more challenging for the person and their hygienist to keep the teeth clean and to prevent infection.
Also, as the teeth continue to lean more and more, replacing the missing tooth and putting teeth back into their natural position becomes more difficult, involved, and often more costly.