Missing teeth do more than affect the appearance of your smile; gaps from missing teeth can also affect how your teeth and jaws function and eventually impact a change in your facial structure. They can also put you at greater risk for infection, gum disease, and further damage to your remaining teeth. Without a replacement for missing teeth, other teeth will shift out of alignment.
People lose teeth for a variety of reasons.Teeth might have fallen out as a result of an injury, gum disease, oral cancer, or severe tooth decay. Whatever the reason, while missing teeth can be embarrassing, it’s nothing to be ashamed of–more than 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.
Dental bridges are dental prosthetics that can help literally “bridge” the gap between missing teeth or even for teeth that have not erupted. They are an acceptable alternative to implants because of their lower cost, and a good alternative for patients with diabetes or autoimmune disorders who may not be able to recover properly from dental implant surgery. But there may be some sacrifices, adjacent teeth will have their structure compromised in order to add crowns to the teeth that will create the bridge span.
A dental bridge is a set of crowns–artificial teeth–that is anchored to the natural teeth on either side of a gap using cement or dental bonding. Some bridges consist of just one crown, to replace one tooth, or several, to fill a larger gap. Bridges are custom molded for each patient, look completely natural, and restore the proper function and aesthetic of the smile.
Dental bridges can be classified by the type of materials used to make them. The three most common are:
Getting a dental bridge typically requires at least two appointments. During the first appointment, the doctor will prepare the natural teeth on either side of the gap. If the teeth will be covered in crowns–such as for traditional or cantilever bridges–the doctor will file away some of their enamel and reshape their surfaces to accommodate the crowns. An impression will be made of your teeth and sent to a lab to create your prosthesis.
In the meantime, usually for at least several days, the prepared teeth will be covered with temporary crowns to prevent sensitivity and protect them from damage.
At the second appointment, the temporary crowns will be removed and the new bridge cemented into place. Your dentist may use a temporary cement at first while he or she helps you “try out” the bridge for a few weeks to make sure it fits and feels okay. You may need a third appointment for any changes or adjustments and to have the bridge permanently cemented in place.
In the days following your bridge placement, you may experience mild to moderate sensitivity. This is usually as a result of nerves being activated during the procedure and should subside fairly soon. Many patients also experience some difficulty or awkwardness in chewing and speaking at first, especially if they had been living with missing teeth for a long time, but your mouth and jaws will quickly adapt.
While there are no dietary restrictions with a bridge, you should try to avoid very crunchy or chewy foods that can strain the bridge and may cause damage or displacement.
You should contact your doctor if you begin to experience pain or aching in the teeth to which the bridge is attached or if the gums around your bridge become swollen, red, or prone to bleeding, as this can be an indication of early gum disease.
With proper care, a dental bridge can last 15 years or more.
Dental bridges are an affordable tooth replacement option. The cost of dental bridges varies, and with insurance the costs reduce significantly. You’ll pay more for an all-porcelain bridge than for a metal or porcelain-fused bridge. If you need a cantilever bridge or your dentist needs to do extensive work on your remaining teeth in order to support the bridge, your costs may be higher.
It’s never too late to restore a beautiful, healthy smile, and at Bright Now! Dental, we’re committed to helping you achieve the best in dental health and function. Our convenient, local retail offices offer a full range of dental care services, including dental bridges, and we work hard to make sure receiving the care you need is easy and affordable.
Schedule a consultation today at a Bright Now! Location near you to find out if dental bridges are right for you!