A bridge is a device for replacing a missing tooth in preference to having a denture or where the possibility of an implant has been excluded.
In principle - and in the most conventional situation – it consists of shaping the teeth either side of the space as if they were having crowns made. The bridge is usually made as one complete fixture with the ‘false’ tooth connected to the crowns at each end; when cemented permanently in place it is, therefore, supported by the teeth either side.
An assessment, therefore, has to be made of the suitability of the teeth for this purpose. Impressions have to be taken as for crowns and the bridge, custom made by the dental technician, and is usually made of porcelain bonded to a precious metal alloy.
There are variations of design such as possibly using just one tooth to support the ‘false’ tooth where its size and loading relative to the supporting tooth is favourable. This is called a 'cantilevered bridge'.
In some situations it may be possible to construct a ‘Maryland’ bridge which has one or more ‘wings’ bonded to adjacent teeth to carry the ‘false’ tooth and requires much less preparation of the supporting tooth or teeth.
The ultimate choice will depend on the prevailing situation to give the best long –term function and cosmetic result.
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