Losing any amount of teeth–whether it’s due to decay, damage or some other reason–can be incredibly disheartening, especially if one takes great care in protecting their oral health. Unfortunately, tooth loss does sometimes occur even where an individual has excellent oral hygiene habits because of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, like sports injuries. Not only can this tooth loss create issues with comfort and appearance, it can actually affect the overall function and health of your mouth. Remaining teeth may shift in order to fill the gap, causing a change in bite, speech impediments, an increased risk of periodontal disease and much more. Tooth restoration procedures, such as implants, partial dentures, full dentures and bridges, are used to replace missing teeth and thereby restore the healthy structure and function of the individual’s mouth.
Why Consider Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are useful in replacing one or even a few missing teeth, especially when the teeth surrounding the gap are strong and healthy. This can make it unnecessary for the individual to have multiple implants placed, which can be a far longer and more tedious process. That said, dental bridges are occasionally placed over tooth implants and can be quite successful in this capacity.
The three main types of dental bridges include conventional, cantilever and resin-bonded. With both conventional and cantilever bridges, the teeth that will be used to help support the bridge are normally shaped in order to be fitted with crowns. This shaping requires the removal of some tooth enamel and structure, which is why the procedure is irreversible. With a resin-bonded bridge, the teeth surrounding the gap do not normally need to be shaped or prepared quite as much as the bridge is bonded to the teeth rather than permanently cemented over them.
Dental bridges can be made out of porcelain and metal, porcelain and gold or metal-free materials. The type of bridge material that is best for you is largely dependent upon where the bridge will be placed in the mouth, what type of pressure it will experience (like chewing or even clenching or grinding), your personal preferences on appearance and more. These concerns will be thoroughly addressed by your dentist at the start of the process, so that you understand your options and can make the best decision for your needs.
Placing Dental Bridges
The dental bridge process begins with x-rays and impressions of the area that will be restored, so that the bridge can be made exactly in the way that is needed and will be most comfortable in the mouth. Then your dentist will prepare the teeth on either side of the bridge and take new impressions–these ones will be helpful in preparing the crowns that will be placed over the adjoining teeth to support the bridge. The benefit of having a dental laboratory fabricate crowns and bridges exactly to the specifications of your teeth is that they will be best suited to the structure of your mouth and therefore will be the most comfortable for your needs.
While the impressions are at the dental laboratory, your dentist will fit you with a temporary bridge to protect your teeth from damage and discomfort. Once the bridge and crowns have been completed, you will return to your dentist’s office to have them fitted, adjusted and cemented into your mouth. It is highly likely that your dentist will schedule another follow-up visit in the near future to further check that your new dental bridge is working well for you.
Just as is the case with your natural, healthy teeth, it is important to take proper care of your dental bridge. Your dentist, Dr. Saferin, will discuss with you the proper oral hygiene habits you need to have in order to ensure that the gum tissue and natural teeth around your bridge remain clean and cared for, and there is no buildup of plaque or bacteria occurring. You will also want to continue to visit your dentist at least twice annually to receive a full examination and professional dental cleaning.
Dental bridges can be enormously helpful in restoring the structure, function, comfort and health of a mouth that has suffered tooth loss. For more information about dental bridges and whether they are right for you, contact our office today!