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A bridge, in terms of cosmetic dentistry, is specially designed structure used to fill the gap left by a lost tooth. It's essentially a false tooth held in place by the two adjacent teeth. A dental bridge is made of a semi-flexible support that the replacement tooth fits into it. This bridge is then bonded to the adjacent teeth to permanently fill the gap from where the original tooth was lost.

Different types of treatment
There are three main types of dental bridges: traditional fixed bridge, resin-bonded bridges, and cantilever bridges. The fixed bridge is the most common type of bridge and consists of a replacement tooth fused between two porcelain crowns, anchored to neighbouring teeth. The replacement tooth used is usually made of porcelain or ceramics.

A resin-bonded bridge is used to fill a gap in between the front teeth, or when the neighbouring teeth to the missing tooth are strong and healthy. In this case, the replacement tooth is made of plastic and is bonded to the adjacent teeth with resin.

Cantilever bridges are used in areas where there is less stress, commonly the front of the mouth, or in cases where teeth are only available on one side of the space. This type of bridge involves anchoring the replacement tooth to one side over one or more adjoining natural teeth.

What are the advantages and disadvantages
The advantages of dental bridges are that they're neater and more permanent than dentures but less invasive and expensive than implants. They can also help to support adjacent teeth that can begin to deteriorate when a neighbouring tooth is lost.

However, one of the main drawbacks of bridges is that a small layer of the adjacent teeth may need to be removed to allow room for the hollow crown that carries the replacement tooth. Even the slightest alteration to an healthy tooth can adversely effect it's longevity.

How much are typical costs and prices?
Although bridges are considerably cheaper than dental implants, they are by no means inexpensive. The average cost of a dental bridge in the UK is fast approaching £1000. If you are lucky enough to be an NHS patient, a bridge will cost £198 but the materials used may be inferior to those used at a private clinic.

How long will the procedure last?
A dental bridge should last at least 10 years, provided that good dental hygiene and eating habits are followed. Indeed, it's not uncommon for a dental bridge to last in excess of 15 years.

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