Bridges replace one or more missing teeth. They consist of an artificial tooth anchored to the natural teeth on each side of the gap. If a tooth is lost through an accident, or is too badly decayed to save with a crown, a bridge may be the treatment of choice. You can also ask your dentist or prosthodontist about implants, which are another way of replacing missing teeth.
Teeth have many functions apart from chewing and biting, so missing teeth should be replaced for the following reasons:
- to improve appearance.
- to prevent stresses causing damage to other teeth.
- to prevent the teeth near the gap from shifting.
- to maintain the natural bite.
- to improve chewing ability.
Crowns and bridges are usually made of porcelain or gold alloy. Porcelain is strong and can be made to match the colour of the natural teeth. It is resistant to staining and can be cleaned if it becomes stained.
Gold alloy is used for its strength, hardness and durability. It is especially useful for molars which must withstand the forces of grinding and crushing. Gold alloy and porcelain are well tolerated by the gum and cheek. An allergic reaction to gold alloy or porcelain is rare.