Porcelain / Metal Bridge
A PORCELAIN / METAL BRIDGE (also known as a PFM Bridge or Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal BRIDGE) is an excellent choice for replacing one or more missing teeth. Next to FULL GOLD BRIDGES, PFM BRIDGES have the longest history of use. The PFM BRIDGE became popular in the early 1960s and is the most common type of BRIDGE placed today. Its length of use is a testament to its durability.
PFM BRIDGES are composed of a metal framework or structure to which porcelain is fused at a high temperature in an oven in order to make it have the cosmetic appearance of natural teeth. The porcelain application process is completed by a laboratory technician and is very much a form of art. The more artistic the technician, the more natural the appearance of the PFM BRIDGE will be.
When designed correctly, a PFM BRIDGE is strong and durable. However, since dental porcelain is a form of glass, it is very strong under compressive forces and very brittle when shearing forces are applied. Consequently, fracture of the porcelain on a PFM BRIDGE can lead to premature cosmetic failure of the prosthesis. This risk is minimal and most patients find the cosmetic benefits to outweigh the risk.
Porcelain is much harder than tooth enamel. This means that your dentist must precisely define the location and occlusion (bite) of a PFM BRIDGE. Even in the best of circumstances, porcelain can cause significant wear to the enamel of opposing natural teeth. When a PFM BRIDGE is placed opposing PFM CROWNS or PFM BRIDGES, the similarity of hardness between the opposing porcelain minimizes the wear effect. However, if you happen to have a significant BRUXING (tooth grinding) problem, damage is possible.
When designed and fabricated correctly, PFM BRIDGES are very cosmetic and easily create the illusion of natural teeth.
The arrow in this photo illustrates a pontic (false tooth) which is suspended by the retainer (crown portion of a bridge) on either side.