When you lose a tooth the gap it leaves in your smile, even if it is a back tooth, can be troubling. Not only does it affect your self-confidence because every time you open your mouth to laugh, smile, or yawn the gap becomes apparent, but it also affects your bite and chewing functions. It can be uncomfortable, too, if food persistently gets stuck there, and the bone underneath will begin to atrophy possibly leading to more tooth loss and other problems. One way to avoid at least some of these issues is to get a dental bridge. If you are considering a bridge but wonder what the difference between a fixed bridge and a removable bridge is, let us explain.
A fixed bridge can accommodate up to three missing teeth if they are side by side in the same dental arch. The bridge is “fixed” because it is permanently bonded to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap left by your missing tooth/teeth. These healthy teeth are called abutment teeth because they support the dental bridge. The bridge is fabricated with a crown on each end (that fits over the abutment or supporting teeth) with the artificial teeth (pontics) in the middle. The crowns slip over the abutment teeth, to which they are permanently bonded, and the pontics fill the gap snugly.
A removable bridge is actually a removable partial denture. They can be removed for cleaning, and at night before you sleep. A removable partial denture consists of pontics or artificial teeth which are attached to a pink acrylic base that resembles your gingival tissue. The replacement teeth need not be adjacent to one another. This prosthetic is usually held in place with metal clasps that attach to your natural teeth.