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 one or more missing teeth — made up of two or more crowns, attaching artificial tooth/teeth (pontic) to adjacent natural teeth (abutment). The false tooth/teeth can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants and 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.
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.
What types of dental bridges are available?
Dr. Coffey performs 3 main types of fixed dental bridges:
- Traditional bridges involve creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic in between. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
- Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. These are not very common anymore and they are not recommended in the back of the mouth where it can put too much force on other teeth and damage them.
- Maryland bonded bridges (also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge) are made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal or porcelain framework. Metal or porcelain wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to your existing teeth.
Why do I need a bridge?
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.
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge restores your smile and the ability to properly chew and speak by supporting your lips and cheeks. Bridges help maintain the shape of your face since 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. Bridges prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
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.
What is the process for getting a dental bridge?
The procedure usually takes two appointments to complete. At the first appointment Dr. Coffey will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin to allow room for a crown to be placed over them.
Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a dental lab where the bridge will be constructed. Dr. Coffey will make a temporary bridge to wear to protect the exposed teeth and gums for approximately two weeks while the bridge is being made.
During the second visit, Dr. Coffey will remove the temporary bridge and the new porcelain or metal bridge will be checked and adjusted, as necessary, to achieve a proper fit before he cements it into place.
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.
How long do dental bridges last?
With good oral hygiene and regular check-ups, it is not unusual for the lifespan of a fixed bridge to be over 10 years.
How do I take care of my bridge?
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. It is important to keep remaining teeth healthy and strong as the success of the bridge (depending on the type selected) depends on the solid foundation offered by the surrounding teeth.
If you would like to schedule a FREE consultation for dental bridges (x-rays not included) with Encinitas Dentist, Edward B. Coffey, DDS MS – Encinitas Dental Art, please call us at (760) 942-7272. Hablamos Español.