Are you missing one or more teeth? If so, you’re not alone. The American Dental Association reports that average adults between 20 and 64 years old have three decayed or missing teeth. Fortunately, you have multiple options for replacing these missing teeth, including dental bridges. Here we dive into what a dental bridge is and discuss four types of bridges that your dentist may recommend.
What is a bridge and how does it work?
A bridge may be suggested if you are missing teeth. Bridges are fixed prosthetic devices that literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.
How are bridges made?
Before a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will take an impression to provide an exact mold for the bridge. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the bridge to match the color of your existing teeth. Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your bridge, in the material your dentist specifies. A temporary bridge will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent bridge is being made. When the permanent bridge is ready, the temporary bridge is removed, and the new bridge is cemented over your prepared tooth or teeth.
How long do bridges last?
While bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your bridge is to practice good oral hygiene. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily. Also see your dentist and hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. To prevent damage to your new bridge, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.
What types of bridges are there?
Your dentist can close the gaps in your smile with dental bridges. With so many types of dental bridges available, you can feel confident that your dentist has an appropriate solution for your missing teeth.
Do you have any questions about dental bridges? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-655-5000 or request an appointment online.