Having a missing tooth or set of teeth can be a serious oral health issue. While many people simply think of it as a cosmetic issue (and it is partially a cosmetic issue), there are actually many other reasons to have a gap between teeth filled. Gaps between teeth can lead to disease, infections, decay and other forms of damage. If you have a gap in your teeth where one or more teeth are missing, you should consider different replacement options. One popular replacement option is the placement of a dental bridge.
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Why You Need to Replace a Missing Tooth or Teeth
Not only does having a missing tooth or teeth affect the look of your smile, but these missing teeth also cause severe damage to the oral health of a patient. What people often don’t realize is that a missing tooth or teeth can cause damage to their teeth, gums and even jawbone. If a tooth or teeth are missing, the surrounding, healthy teeth have a tendency to migrate. This can lead to the impacting of healthy teeth, which damages the teeth. Migration can also make it more difficult for a patient to take proper care of their oral health. A patient may not be able to properly brush or floss—leading to the growth of bacteria. This, in turn, means tooth decay and gum disease. Finally, having a gap between a tooth or teeth can lead to the deterioration of the gums and bone tissue in the jaw—causing that portion of the face to sag.
In order for a patient to maintain the cosmetic appearance of not only their smile, but face overall, and to ensure their ongoing oral health, a patient will need to consider replacement options. One popular option for patients is a dental bridge.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental prosthetic that is used to fill a gap between one or more teeth. This prosthetic often involves the use of one or more abutments and a pontic, although sometimes a pontic with “wings” attached is used.
Why a Dental Bridge?
There are a variety of different reasons for the use of a dental bridge. Dental bridges help to avoid the migration of teeth, which was discussed above. Dental bridges also help to provide an additional level of bite support—allowing patients to bite and chew much like they did before their teeth fell out, were damaged or were removed. Dental bridges are also excellent options for patients that have damage to their jawbone that keeps them from being a candidate for the placement of dental implants.
With a dental bridge, a patient will be able to smile, bite and chew with confidence and pride.
Types of Bridges
While fixed bridges are very common, there are different types of dental bridges that a dentist may choose from. Certain bridges are better than others for a patient’s particular needs. Below are the three most common types of dental bridges:
Fixed bridges are made up of a pontic (false tooth or set of teeth), with an abutment on each side holding the pontic in place. These bridges offer an excellent level of support, and are great for the replacement of one tooth or multiple teeth.
Cantilever bridges are very similar to fixed bridges, except they only have an abutment on once side that holds the pontic in place. This can only be done if the tooth that the dental crown is being place on is healthy and durable.
Maryland bridges are unlike fixed or cantilever bridges, as they do not involve the use of an abutment. Instead, the pontic is held in place with “wings” that are made with metal and resin. These wings are attached to the backs of the healthy teeth that surround the missing tooth.
The placement process for fixed and cantilever bridges involve the reshaping of the healthy tooth or teeth in which the abutments will be placed. Crowns are created to fit over the reshaped teeth. These crowns are often made to match the appearance of the surrounding, healthy teeth. Once the teeth are reshaped, a mold is created and sent away for the prosthetic to be created. Once the replacement prosthetic has returned, the dentist will check the fit of the prosthetic. If they are happy with the fit and appearance of the prosthetic, they will place it with dental cement.
Maryland bridges require minimal preparation of the healthy, surrounding teeth. An impression is made, and the dentist sends the impression away for the fabrication of the prosthetic. Once the prosthetic is ready, it is sent back to the dentist for placement. The dentist then checks the fit, and places the prosthetic with dental cement.
It is important to consider that dental bridges don’t have roots. Because of this, it’s important to keep the prosthetic cleaned—as well as the gums below. The surrounding teeth that hold the pontic in place also need to be kept clean to maintain their integrity. If they begin to decay, the abutments may no longer fit. Keep in mind that, while the abutments are made with prosthetic materials, the tooth under the prosthetic is still a natural tooth that needs to be cared for.
Make sure to brush, floss and rinse your mouth every day, at least twice a day. Also see your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. If you notice anything wrong with the prosthetic, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist for as soon as possible. If you take good care of your dental bridge and your overall oral health, your bridge will likely last much longer.