Dental Bridges (Fixed Partial Dentures)


Seattle Dental Implants & Prosthodontics – Seattle, WA

All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss does not necessarily have to occur as you age.  But if you do lose teeth, they must be replaced to preserve proper function of your mouth and facial structure. Fortunately, there are multiple options for correcting tooth loss, a bridge being just one that Dr. Chung can provide for you.

What exactly is a bridge or fixed partial denture?

A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device that fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are cemented into place, provide more permanent stability and can only be removed by a dental professional whereas removable partial dentures, as the name implies, can be taken out by the patient.

Who is a candidate for a bridge?

Oral functionality and appearance are excellent reasons for having a bridge made. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older; therefore, a bridge will help contour your lips and cheeks, restoring chewing abilities as well.

Dental health is the paramount reason for a bridge. Teeth are designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.

Missing teeth can also cause speech disorders because they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly. Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.

A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges) or they can be removable (removable partial denture).

Dental Bridge Options

Fixed bridges are attached by either placing crowns (regular or implant) on the adjacent teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are retained to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments (removable partial dentures).

If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it is difficult to carry these things out and can and should be replaced. Bridges are a great option to restore your dental health and to improve your appearance.

How is a bridge attached?

The total process usually takes a couple of appointments to complete. Depending on the type of bridge you are receiving and whether or not implants are involved in the treatment plan, Dr. Chung will commence by preparing the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin.

Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure the correct bite and to match the opposing teeth, impressions of the teeth are made and sent to a lab where it will be constructed.

Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Retainer crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.