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Fixed partial dentures are an option for filling the space created by missing teeth. It is formed to look like the missing teeth, and takes its place in the mouth of the damaged natural teeth. The sides of a bridge use the two surrounding teeth for support, hence the name. If the patient has adequate bone structure a fixed partial denture may be supported by dental implants providing a solid base for the denture. This is known as an Implant-Supported Denture.
A bridge replaces the missing teeth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. A prosthodontist, such as Dr. David Zelby in Atlanta, are the only specialty in dentistry that focuses on replacement of missing and damaged teeth. The materials used for securing the denture may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward, creating a whole chain reaction of bad things. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing, they start to “fall.” As the jaw tries to adjust to the missing teeth, the bite changes in response to the pressure, thereby causing further complications to the teeth and jaw. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw, e.g. TMJ. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and it is just a matter of time before they, too, are lost. Gum disease becomes a serious problem, with the difficulty of treatment increasing as the neglect continues.