All of your teeth play a crucial role in chewing, speaking and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. When there is tooth loss, it affects the ability to chew and speak, but it can also negatively impact the alignment of your teeth over time. If you lose a tooth, it is recommended to have the tooth replaced in order to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss, such as dental bridges.
Dental Bridge Options
A dental bridge – crowns on either side of a missing space that are connected in between. Artificial teeth are placed to fill the missing tooth space and the teeth used to span the gap are called abutment teeth. A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is permanently cemented and can be a good option to correct tooth loss.
Maryland bridge – an artificial tooth that can be bonded to the neighboring teeth. A Maryland bridge is only used to replace a missing front tooth and can make for a conservative method to replace a missing tooth. A Maryland bridge is commonly used for teenagers with congenitally missing front teeth until they are fully developed.
Removable bridge – also known as a removable partial denture. Usually, a one tooth replacement that is removable. This isn’t commonly offered, but it can be done.
Why do I need a dental bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons in pursuing a dental bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks and maintain the alignment of your teeth. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to appear older.
Bringing your mouth back to full health is the main reason a dental bridge is utilized. Teeth complement each other and prefer to have opposing teeth to chew against and neighboring teeth to lean against. Without a tooth, your teeth may shift and a number of potentially harmful disorders such as gum disease and speech complications.
How is a dental bridge attached?
At the initial appointment, your neighboring teeth will be prepared in order to create enough room on the teeth to allow for sufficient strength of material on the bridge to maintain your bite. Once the teeth are prepared, an impression will be taken of your teeth, opposing teeth and the way your teeth come together (bite registration). A temporary bridge will be placed to hold the teeth in the correct position and protect your teeth until the permanent bridge is returned from the dental lab.
Once the permanent bridge is returned from the lab, it is tried in to verify fit and accuracy. It should precisely fit over the abutment teeth, providing proper contact to neighboring teeth and match the opposing teeth. After the accuracy of fit is determined, fixed dental bridges are cemented to your neighboring abutment teeth and a pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth.
What materials are used for dental bridges?
Dental bridges can be made of all metal, porcelain layered over metal (porcelain fused to metal) or all porcelain. All porcelain bridges are more esthetic, but may not be strong enough in the back of the mouth. The material for a dental bridge is customized for your mouth, taking into consideration the location of the missing tooth and the esthetic demand required of the missing tooth.
How do I take care of my bridge?
Your dental bridge is only successful if the neighboring teeth are kept clean and healthy. It is very important to clean around and under your dental bridge to ensure long term success of it. Brushing and flossing around the dental bridge is crucial, but a water flosser can be very valuable in cleaning underneath the bridge.