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.
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth. Bridges are permanently attached and cannot be removed.
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 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.
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment Dr. Michael will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin.
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 lab where the bridge will be constructed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented 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.
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. What we use the most on back teeth is called monolithic Zirconia. It is a white chip proof material that has been proven to be both strong and appear like a natural tooth.
When you are missing a single tooth, or multiple teeth, a Dental Bridge is a fixed (meaning cemented in and not removable) appliance that is designed to fill those gaps with realistic looking and feeling teeth. Bridges can be made from gold, metal alloys, porcelain, ceramics or a combination of these things.
Bridges are an excellent solution to replace missing teeth in order to restore your smile, improve the appearance and support for the shape of your face, can help with eating and speaking and can prevent other teeth from drifting out of position.
In order to prepare teeth for a Dental Bridge, tooth structure must be taken away to accommodate the fitting of the new bridge. This can be justified if the teeth that are being prepared are decayed or heavily restored. In the case of teeth that have never had fillings and are in good health otherwise, the idea of cutting them down to prepare for a bridge is not ideal. In this case, Dental Implants can be an excellent alternative treatment.
The first visit involves a consultation with your dentist to determine whether a bridge is a good treatment choice for you. This process will involve taking X-rays to determine tooth and bone health. In addition, it is important that your gum health and overall health are in good condition to ensure an optimal outcome. After a treatment plan is made, the process of getting a bridge takes two visits. In the first visit, the teeth are recontoured and shaved, and a shade for the bridge is selected. An impression is taken (we use a scanner for this instead of the tray full of “goop” that hardens) and sent to the lab. A temporary bridge is made and cemented. At the second visit (usually two weeks later), the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent bridge is cemented in.
With routine dental visits and excellent home care, Dental Bridges can last in excess of 10-15 years.
Bridges do not require a lot of additional care over and above good brushing and flossing. The most difficult part of maintaining a bridge is to adapt floss underneath the ‘false’ tooth in order to keep that area clean. Your dentist and dental hygienist will assist you with this.
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