What is the difference between a crown and a bridge? A crown replaces a part of the tooth seen above the gum. The crown is supported by the remaining tooth structure or root.
A bridge replaces one or more missing teeth (i.e. the part above the gum) and is made up one or more crowns, which support and carry the replacement tooth or teeth. A typical bridge will be one that consists of two crowns, one on either side of missing tooth or space, carrying a replacement tooth. Most bridges have the supporting crowns and replacement teeth joined rigidly together in one piece.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bridges
Can a bridge be removed by me just like a plastic denture can?
No, a bridge is fixed as opposed to a denture, which is removable artificial teeth. As such, once cemented, a bridge is secure and should feel very much a part of you. However, in the rare instance when a bridge is to be removed, it may be done by the dentist, but only with some difficulty.
Why does a bridge cost more than a denture?
The time and professional skill required in the making of a bridge is very great. Add to these factors the cost of the materials used plus the laboratory or technician charges and the overall cost of the bridge exceeds the cost of a denture. A well made and well maintained bridge can be expected to last many years.
I feel prematurely old now that I am wearing a denture. Will a bridge help me overcome this depressing feeling?
If it is found that a bridge can be made to replace your existing denture, then the mere fact that a bridge is fixed securely onto your own teeth, and does not need to be removed for cleaning, will go a long way towards overcoming this feeling of premature ageing! The absence of wires or hooks, which many dentures have also helps in your confidence to talk and smile without fear of betraying the fact that you have missing teeth.
Is it easy to maintain a bridge, i.e. cleaning it, etc. since it cannot be removed from my mouth?
With proper instructions from your dentist, maintaining your bridge in good functional and aesthetic condition is not difficult, but requires a little effort and time. This routine can be incorporated in your normal tooth brushing time and does not significantly increase the time you spend cleaning your teeth. Correct cleaning of your bridge may include flossing, or the use of small brushes. With some practice and time, most patients do very well if they are sufficiently instructed and motivated.
How long will the bridge last and must I go for regular check-ups?
The lifespan of a bridge vary tremendously, depending upon numerous factors, which may present in different people. The need to have regular check-ups with your dentist cannot be overstressed, as very often minor problems with your bridge can be detected early and remedial action taken before the situation worsens and reaches a disastrous stage, which may necessitate a remake or even worse, an extraction and a more extensive bridge.
Some friends have told me that bridges are bad as the supporting teeth invariably decay and have to be removed eventually. Is this true?
No. The supporting teeth of a bridge will only decay if the bridge has not been properly maintained by the patient. From the outset, if a proper choice of teeth supporting the bridge has been made, then you should expect these teeth to last as long as they would have if they were not used as bridge abutments. Teeth, which are already suspect will of course, make poor bridge supports and therefore should not be used except in rare occasions.