Tooth loss can be a vicious cycle. The more teeth you lose, the more likely you are to damage or lose surrounding teeth. We’ve addressed the importance of replacing damaged or missing teeth in another blog post. You have several options for replacing your teeth, but a dental bridge is a common option if you’ve only lost one or two teeth.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridges have two parts- a pontic, which is a replacement tooth for the missing tooth, and an abutment, which is the supporting structures that hold the bridge in place. There are four main types of bridges to meet the various needs of different patients.
- The most common type of bridge is a pontic replacement tooth connected to two crowns on either side. Your dentist files down the teeth on either side of the gap and places the abutment crowns on those teeth. There are a few other options, depending on where the gap occurs in your mouth and the strength of the teeth around it. In the industry, professionals call this a traditional bridge.
- If there is only one tooth next to the gap, a cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, but only has one crown on one side of the pontic.
- If several teeth need replacing, a Maryland bridge is similar to a denture but is fixed in the mouth. This bridge has plastic teeth and gums with metal wings on both sides of the teeth to bond the bridge in place on surrounding teeth. Your dentist can advise you which type of bridge is best for your mouth.
- Finally, if you have multiple teeth missing, another great option is an implant-supported bridge. Your dentist can help protect your jawbone from weakening by placing two implants at the edges of the gap. After your mouth heals from this procedure, your dentist will place a bridge over the implants to fill the space between them with natural-looking plastic teeth and gums.
Benefits of a Dental Bridge
There are many reasons it’s important and helpful to replace missing teeth in your smile.
Replacing missing teeth helps you:
- chew effectively
- prevent bacteria growth and food from lodging in the gap
- protect the shape and structure of your jaw
- improve your confidence as it restores the aesthetics of a complete smile
- prevent surrounding teeth from collapsing into the gap
You might find bridges a better option than partial dentures or a full set of dentures because they help you keep any healthy teeth that you have. Also, your dentist will permanently affix your dental bridge in your mouth. This is great if you are concerned about losing your dental appliance while you talk or eat, or if you are concerned you may lose a removable appliance. Dentures can be very fragile, which makes dental bridges a more durable option. However, if you struggle to clean your teeth effectively in your mouth, a denture can be easier to clean as you can remove it and see all sides clearly.
How Do I Care for a Dental Bridge?
Your dentist will bond your dental bridge to your permanent teeth. You won’t need to remove them and you should care for them like you do your other permanent teeth. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss twice daily. It is really important to gently stimulate the gums under your bridge to help keep the gums healthy. If bacteria sits on your gums and causes them to recede, it makes a gap between the bridge and the gums. This gap will become a hiding place for bacteria and will make the problem worse. Bacteria damage your gums and surrounding teeth. This may also lead to infection in your jaw or more tooth loss.
If you are missing teeth, talk with your dentist about the best options for your mouth and budget. Your dentist should work with you to find the right option for you. If you don’t have a dentist, or want one that will work with you to find solutions, consider visiting us at West One Family Dental.