What is a bridge?
A bridge fixes a replacement tooth (or teeth) to natural teeth on either side of the gap. Some bridges have crowns at each end, others are fixed to the surface of the teeth next to the gap.
Just like crowns and veneers, bridges can be made from a variety of different materials. High-end porcelain bridges are individually hand-crafted by skilled dental ceramicists and designed to emulate your natural teeth as closely as possible so no one can tell you are missing a tooth.
When is a bridge needed?
Bridges are used to replace missing teeth. Appearance is one consideration, however, there are health reasons too. Teeth on either side of a gap can lean into the gap and alter the way the lower and upper teeth bite together, causing problems with your jaw. It can become more difficult to eat and food can also get packed into the gap, leading to both decay and gum disease.
What are the alternatives?
If you don’t want a bridge, one alternative is a partial denture. This is a plate with a number of false teeth on it. It may have clasps to keep the denture in place in the mouth, some of which may show when you smile or open your mouth. Dentures are generally removed at night and must be carefully cleaned.
A better (though more costly alternative) are dental implants. Dental implants are inserted into the jaw during surgery then topped with a replacement tooth or a crown. They form a stable long-lasting solution and can be used for almost all adults regardless of age. For more information, please refer to the section on dental implants.