From a design perspective, nothing much has changed about dental bridges in a couple of thousand years. Archeologists digging in Central Italy discovered a bridge crafted from pure gold and belonging to a woman of the ancient Etruscan civilization.
Surprisingly, the basic design principle of the bridge – two clasps attached to the natural teeth neighboring the missing tooth that hold a false tooth between them – bore a striking similarity to bridges used today. Scholars theorize that Etruscan women wore them primarily as a way to display their wealth and secondarily as a restorative dental appliance.
When it comes to their function and materials, on the other hand, dental bridges have come a long way in the last 2500 years. First, discrete dental restorations are the name of the game now, and dental bridges are designed and crafted to blend in with the surrounding teeth. Second, rather than pure gold, today’s dental bridges are fabricated using dental porcelain in combination with different biocompatible metals, or all ceramic materials with no metal at all. In many cases, the prepared tooth can be digitally scanned and sent directly to the laboratory for final modeling.
Unlike its historical predecessors, contemporary bridges are held in place via abutment crowns, rather than golden clasps. And in case you didn’t know, President George Washington was known for having notoriously bad teeth, so if he had seen Dr. Goldberg today, that one-dollar bill may have him showing his pearly whites a lot more.