Your mouth has three main jobs: smiling, talking, and eating. If you have missing teeth – all of those areas are compromised. Eating becomes difficult because chewing is cumbersome. Talking is compromised because the ability to form words is challenging. Even smiling is tough when you don’t feel confident in your appearance. It’s time to bridge the gap left behind from missing or failing teeth. A dental bridge does exactly that.
What Is A Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed dental prosthetic attached to teeth on either side of a gap. The false tooth in between the natural teeth is called a pontic. It is custom made to fill in the gap of one to two missing teeth and anchored to either natural teeth or implants on either side. A natural tooth dental bridge is not anchored directly into the jawbone, instead it relies on the support of the surrounding teeth. A bridge can be made of a variety of materials, including gold, but most often they are made of porcelain and colored to blend in perfectly with your natural teeth.
How Long Does A Bridge Last ?
The better you take care of your teeth and dental bridge, the longer it will last. A dental bridge can last as long as three, five, ten, fifteen years or more. Implant-supported bridges, with supports directly into the jaw bone, are considered a more permanent solution because they do not rely on the support of natural teeth.
Because it can be difficult to clean between the teeth and under the bridge, the biggest threat to dental bridges is tooth decay. If decay sets in, the natural teeth on either side of the bridge are weakened and the bridge must be removed. The degree to which the teeth are compromised will determine if the bridge can be replaced or if further treatment with implants is necessary.
Benefits Of Dental Bridges
When your teeth are lost, it changes everything. Teeth are made to work together like a team, and when that team loses a member (or several), it affects the entire lineup. There are several benefits of getting a dental bridge.
- Restore your smile so you can confidently greet the world with a mouth full of beautiful teeth without shame or embarrassment.
- A bridge gives you full function of your mouth and restores the ability to properly chew and speak.
- Over time, the bone may shrink when teeth are missing, this changes the entire structure of your face. The jawbone supports the lips and cheeks and when it shrinks, it causes you to look much older than you are.
- When you lose a tooth, other teeth tend to tilt, drift, and move into the empty space. This affects your bite and places undue stress on your teeth and jaw joints causing pain and possible damage.
- Teeth that are tipping or drifting to fill in the gap are hard to clean, which puts your entire mouth at higher risk for tooth decay and infection.
Types of Bridges
When it comes to having a dental bridge, there are several options to fit your needs. Your prosthodontists at renew Institute in Louisville, KY will recommend the best fit for your dental needs.
- Traditional: A traditional bridge is a false tooth or teeth being held in place by dental crowns that have been cemented onto natural supporting teeth on both sides. This is the most common type and can be used as long as your natural teeth are strong enough to support the bridge.
- Cantilever: Rather than supported by two natural teeth, the bridge is supported on one side by a dental crown. For this type of bridge, you only need one natural tooth next to the missing tooth gap. This type of bridge is only recommended in special situations and is not considered the ideal treatment option for most circumstances.
- Maryland: A Maryland bridge is similar to a traditional crown, but it is bonded to the teeth in a slightly different way. While a traditional bridge uses dental crowns on the anchor teeth, a Maryland bridge uses a framework of either metal or porcelain that is bonded onto the backs of the abutment teeth.
- Implant-supported: If you don’t have enough natural teeth to support a bridge, an implant-supported dental bridge uses posts that are surgically placed into the jaw to support the bridge itself. This is considered the strongest and most stable system. It is also the system with the least amount of risk and best long term prognosis as implants are immune to decay.
How Is The Bridge Procedure Done?
Understanding how a dental bridge is placed can help alleviate the stress of having the procedure done. Placing a bridge usually takes more than one dental visit and will be continued with follow-up visits to ensure it is working properly.
- First, the prosthodontist will prepare the teeth on both sides of the gap (abutment teeth). These teeth have a big job to do, so they are reshaped by removing some of the existing tooth structure to allow room for a crown to be placed over them for extra support.
- The next step requires an impression of the teeth which are made using either manual molds or digital impression technology. This will serve as a model from which your bridge and crowns will be made.
- Lastly, before you go home, a temporary bridge will be placed to protect the exposed teeth and gums while the final bridge is made.
- At your next appointment, the first step is to remove the temporary bridge.
- Next, your new bridge is checked and adjusted by the prosthodontist to achieve a proper fit.
- Once the prosthodontist is satisfied with the fit, they will cement the new bridge in place.
While this is a fairly simple procedure, we understand that some clients may experience anxiety. We here at renew Institute in Louisville, KY offer Sedation Dentistry to ensure the comfort of all of our clients. Give our office a call if you want to know more about our sediation services.
How To Care For Your Bridge
Once the dental bridge procedure is over, then it becomes your job to care for it as if it were your own real teeth. Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure the health and longevity of your dental bridge.
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day: This helps to remove plaque on your teeth. This sticky film is bacteria that is always forming. If not removed, it can eat through your teeth and cause more dental issues.
- Always clean between your teeth and under the bridge: Because the bridge doesn’t have roots, it’s important to clean underneath. You can use a flosser, pick, or even little brushes, which your prosthodontist can show you how to use and which one will work best for you.
- See your dentist regularly: Follow-up visits are important because they will allow the dentist to monitor your progress and catch small problems before they become bigger issues.
- Eat a healthy diet: Avoid excessive sugar intake which can affect the integrity of your teeth.
Will It Be Difficult to Eat With a Dental Bridge?
No. It will actually make eating much easier. Chewing food can be cumbersome without a full mouth of teeth. With a mouth full of strong teeth, you can enjoy your favorite foods day after day.
Will the Dental Bridge Change How I Speak?
Potentially yes, but only for the better. It can be hard to speak with missing teeth. When those gaps are filled in, you will be able to speak better and more clearly.
Bridging the Gap
When you have missing teeth or gaps in your smile, the entire mouth suffers. A dental bridge is a common procedure that restores the gift of eating, speaking, and smiling with confidence. With proper dental care, our bridges are known to outlast other options because of the care and attention we give to each patient. Your options are clearly outlined by our prosthodontists to ensure you understand what the procedure looks like every step of the way.
Our prosthodontists at renew Institute in Louisville, KY can perform dental bridge procedures with ease. We go above and beyond to reduce pain and increase comfort for our clients during their treatments.
We make it our business to make sure you have the smile you deserve.