For a single missing tooth, there are two basic treatment options. The tooth can be replaced with a crown on a dental implant, or it can be replaced with a dental bridge. A bridge consists of two or more teeth that are prepared for crowns and then one or more false teeth, called pontics, are suspended between them.
While a dental implant is becoming the standard of care, there are situations where a bridge may make more sense. For information on which option might be best for your situation, you may be interested in our page comparing a dental bridge and a dental implant.
If your choice is a dental bridge, there are several options for the type of bridge.
ZIRCONIA AND OTHER TYPES OF BRIDGES
While crowns can be made of pure porcelain, porcelain isn’t strong enough to serve as a bridge unless it is in a very low-stress situation. It is brittle and will break under normal chewing forces when used for a bridge.
To make a bridge that looks lifelike but is strong enough to resist chewing forces, the porcelain is baked onto a metal framework. This is called porcelain fused to metal. It has been used successfully for many years.
Some patients have a metal sensitivity. If that’s you, metal can now be avoided with a new technology using a very strong ceramic called zirconia. Zirconia has so much tensile strength that it has earned the nickname ceramic steel, and it has enough strength to withstand chewing forces. In addition to its application in dental treatments and joint replacements, it is used in aerospace and other high-tech industries. Zirconia is translucent and, while it isn’t as aesthetic as pure porcelain, on the back teeth it is difficult to tell from natural tooth structure.
In some cases,we will use pure zirconia for the bridge. In areas that are more demanding aesthetically he will prefer using a zirconia framework with porcelain baked over the visible surface. We feel that this gives the most aesthetic option for a bridge