Missing teeth are more than a cosmetic issue. When you have missing teeth, it can become difficult to chew or speak properly. In time, if the teeth are not replaced, your remaining teeth will move to fill the gaps, pulling out of their pockets. This can be quite painful and may lead to other serious dental issues such as bruxism, temporomandibular joint disorder, gum and bone loss, increased tooth decay and periodontal disease. When you are missing multiple teeth, a dental bridge can be used to fill the gap to prevent these issues from occurring.
A dental bridge works similarly to a dental implant or removable partial denture. There are several different types of fixed dental bridges for you and your dentist to choose from based on your unique situation. For cantilever and conventional dental bridges, the teeth on either side of the gap will need to be properly shaped and prepared for a dental crown that will be used to anchor the fixed dental bridge into place. In cases where the missing teeth are the visible front teeth, a resin-bonded bridge may be used. This requires less tooth enamel to be removed, but it can only be used in areas where the gums and anchoring teeth are healthy.
Deciding Which Dental Bridge Is Right for You
Once our dentist has determined that a fixed dental bridge is the correct restoration to replace your missing teeth, he will discuss which type of dental bridge is best suited to your situation. You will also be allowed to choose the materials your dental bridge will be made from, as well as select the proper shade for these materials to allow the restoration to blend with your natural teeth. The materials you can choose from will depend on the area of your mouth where the dental bridge will be placed, the dental laboratory that will be making your restoration, and whether or not you suffer from bruxism. In most cases, your dental bridge will be created from a combination of porcelain and metal. If you are allergic to metals, your bridge can be created from materials such as zirconia or alumina.
Creating and Placing the Dental Bridge
In order for the dental laboratory to create your dental bridge, our dentist will take impressions and x-rays of your teeth. In some cases, photos may be taken as well. All of these will be used to help the laboratory plan and create your unique restoration. In most cases, your bridge will consist of anchor crowns on either side of the gap joined by a piece of metal that will hold the replacement teeth.
Before the impressions for your restoration can be taken, your anchoring teeth will need to be properly prepared for the crowns. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area around the teeth to be prepared. Then, a small amount of your tooth enamel will be removed in order to roughen the surface of the teeth, allowing the dental crowns to be properly bonded. If your teeth are not healthy enough, they will need to be treated and restored before your dental bridge can be placed.
A model of your teeth will then be made using a special material with a putty-like consistency. This provides the dental laboratory a model of the area where the dental bridge will be placed, allowing them to create a restoration that will fit snugly but comfortably into the gap. This will take up to eight weeks to create so you will be given a temporary bridge to wear. Once our office has received your permanent dental bridge, you will return to our office and it will be cemented into place.
Caring for Your Dental Bridge Properly
Once your dental bridge has been cemented into place, you will be given a list of care instructions. This will ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy and that your restoration lasts as long as possible. Our office will provide you with a special flossing instrument to use around the dental bridge daily. In addition, you may be advised to use a special brushing technique and toothpaste to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
Your dental bridge will also need to be checked regularly to ensure that it still fits properly and remains free from damage. This will be simple as long as you continue to maintain a bi-annual schedule of visits to our office for checkups and cleanings. If you find any damage or discoloration on your bridge, you will need to contact our office right away for repair.
If you have any questions about dental bridges, or if you would like to see if you might be a good candidate for a dental bridge restoration, contact our office today for a consultation. Our goal is to help all of our patients achieve their healthiest, brightest smile, and we look forward to answering any questions you might have.