All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age, but if you do lose teeth they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.
Dental Bridge Options
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable.
Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it’s difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.
What exactly is a bridge or fixed partial denture?
A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device which fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts.
Why do I need a dental bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.
Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.
Missing teeth can cause speech disorders as they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.
How is a dental bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes two appointments to complete. In some cases we are able to complete the bridge in a single visit using the CEREC technology available in our practice. If not, the process is as follows:
At the first appointment Dr. Bewley will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin in a method similar to that of preparing a tooth for a crown.
Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, a precision digital impression of the teeth is taken and a sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed. A temporary bridge would be milled for you in the office while the definitive restoration is being completed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented or bonded to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either precious or non-precious metal, but if metal is used I insist on higher quality in the interests of longevity of the restoration as well as health of the patient. Modern porcelain is strong enough that bridges may be constructed metal free if necessary.
How do I take care of my dental bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support. When bridges fail it is usually because of decay in the areas most difficult to clean. This can result in loss of the bridge, and sometimes in one or both of the teeth to which the bridge is attached if the decay is significant. This very phenomenon is why dental implants are in favor instead of bridges. They are easier to clean, spare removal of tooth structure from adjacent teeth, and have a statistically greater life expectancy.