Tooth replacement or restoration, as it is often referred to, can take one of three forms: implant-supported crowns to replace individual teeth; bridges to substitute for multiple adjacent teeth; and dentures for cases when bridges are not possible. Crowns and bridges are cemented to existing teeth or bolted onto implants.Thus, crowns and bridges are non-removable or fixed solutions. In contrast, dentures are designed to clasp onto to adjacent teeth or dental implants, thus making them removable solutions.
A bridge is used to span an edentulous area (space where teeth are missing). The teeth or implants used to support the bridge are called abutments. The part of the bridge which replaces missing teeth and attaches to the abutments is known as “pontic.” There are different types of bridges, depending on how they are fabricated and the way they anchor to the adjacent teeth. The materials used for the bridges include gold, porcelain fused to metal, or porcelain alone.
Bridges usually restore more teeth than there are root structures to support. For instance, a 3-unit bridge replaces three teeth but it is only supported by two anchor teeth. Similarly, 5-unit bridge
replaces five teeth but it is only supported by three anchor teeth. There have to be at least two anchor teeth: one from each side of the bridge. Bridges are cemented to anchor teeth, thus making them non-removable or fixed solutions. Fixed prosthesis should be placed or removed only by a dental professional.
Conventional bridges required at least two healthy anchor teeth.If none of the adjacent teeth can qualify as anchors, a surgeon must place two or more implant to serve as anchors and then attach a bridge to them. At least two implants are necessary because bridge must be attached to the anchors of similar origin: either natural teeth or implants. A combination of natural teeth and implants will weaken the bridge and it is most likely to fail within a short period.