Missing teeth pose serious dangers to oral and overall health. When you lose a tooth, the facial contour starts to droop and the teeth adjacent to the gap start drifting from their position. As a result, you experience a change in your bite and other serious orthodontic issues. Missing teeth also expose the gums to the attack of plaque and bacteria, which leads to an onset of periodontal diseases. Such oral health dangers make it important for you to replace missing teeth.
Dental bridges are prosthetic dental restoration devices that help in replacing one or more missing teeth. A bridge consists of artificial teeth (pontics) attached to crowns on either both or one side. The artificial teeth fill the space left by missing teeth, while the crowns are cemented on to the teeth adjacent to the gap. The crowns strongly anchor the pontics in place and prevent them from moving. Bridges help you in the following manner:
- Replace missing teeth and improve the aesthetic value of your smile.
- Fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and improve your ability to chew and speak.
- Provide support to the facial contour and make you look younger.
- Improve the bite by evenly distributing the chewing and biting forces.
- Prevent the teeth adjacent to the gap from drifting away from their position.
What are the different types of bridges?
There are four types of dental bridges that your dentist will recommend. They are as follows:
1. Traditional dental bridges
Traditional dental bridges are the most commonly used type of bridge. They consist of artificial teeth or pontics attached to crowns on both the ends. Hence, traditional bridges are used in the case when you have teeth present on both the sides of the gap. These adjacent teeth on either side of the gap are prepared and crowns or abutments (as they are known) are cemented on to them.
2. Cantilever dental bridges
Cantilever dental bridges consist of artificial teeth or pontics attached to crowns on only one side. Hence, cantilever bridges are used in the cases when you have teeth present on only one side of the gap. So if there's only one natural tooth next to the gap, a bridge can still be secured. Like traditional bridges, the adjacent tooth is prepared and a crown is cemented in place.
3. Maryland dental bridges
Maryland dental bridges provide a conservative alternative to traditional dental bridges. They do not require the adjacent teeth to be prepared or filed down. Maryland bridges use a pontic that is held in place by a metal or porcelain framework. The framework is cemented on to the back of adjacent teeth on either side of the gap.
4. Implant-supported dental bridges
Implant-supported dental bridges are the best suited for replacing missing teeth. They are employed when you are missing multiple teeth. Instead of using metal frameworks and crowns for support, implant-supported bridges use titanium screws to stand steady in place.
A titanium screw is surgically implanted in the jawbone for each missing tooth and an abutment is used to connect the titanium screw or dental implant to a bridge. Implant-supported bridges are the best secured in place and feel the most comfortable and natural.
How dental bridges are placed?
The dental bridge installation procedure is easy and requires only two visits to the dentist's office. Below is a step-by-step guide to the installation of dental bridges.
First visit: Examining and preparing the tooth
The site with missing teeth is examined by the dentist to determine the right choice of dental bridge for you. Based on your case, the dentist will prepare a treatment plan.
The target area is numbed using a local anesthetic. It keeps you from experiencing pain or discomfort during the procedure.
The abutment teeth or teeth adjacent to the gap are prepared. The enamel is drilled down and the teeth are recontoured to create room for a dental bridge.
Impressions of teeth are obtained and sent to a dental laboratory along with the shade that matches the color of your natural teeth. Using the impressions, the dental lab custom designs a permanent dental bridge. It is done in a manner to match the shape, size, and shade of your natural teeth.
The permanent bridge is usually returned to your dentist's office in two to three weeks.
A temporary bridge is placed over the prepared teeth to protect them from breaking or cracking.
Second visit: Receiving the permanent dental bridge
During the second visit, the temporary dental bridge is removed and the prepared site is flushed with antimicrobials and disinfectants to remove any trace of remaining debris or dental adhesive. This step also prevents future bacterial infestation.
The permanent dental bridge is examined for its fit and shade and if everything is acceptable, it is permanently cemented in place.
At Jones and Hindbaugh Dental, the art and technology of modern dentistry are tactfully employed to systematically restore the damage and improve the cosmetic appeal of your smile. Dr. Erica Hindbaugh Jones' and Dr. Russel Jones specialize in creating a coordinated treatment plan to give you a complete smile makeover. Book an appointment with us today for a more youthful and healthy smile.