We often do not realize this, but our bodies are perfectly designed machines. Our jaws, for example, and the alignment of our teeth are designed perfectly for biting and chewing. Any change in the natural order could result in unfavorable consequences. Losing teeth is one such change that has less than desirable consequences, but, because the long term changes take place so gradually and over an extended period of time, we rarely notice. At some point we realize that eating has become difficult and our other teeth have changed, as well. The teeth of the upper and lower jaws are aligned in such a way that they meet perfectly to allow biting and chewing. When a tooth or teeth go missing, the remaining teeth slowly start shifting to fill the gap. Over time, this results in the misalignment of the teeth, and this makes eating difficult. Also, there is added pressure on the remaining teeth, which cause them to start wearing out. In view of the long term damage losing a tooth or teeth can cause, it is always a good idea to visit a dentist and find out one’s options to close the gap. This article talks about everything you need to know about one such option: dental bridges.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge replaces one or more missing teeth. Dental bridges are similar to dental crowns. The difference is that dental bridges cover more than one tooth, while dental crowns cover only one tooth. The bridge is cemented over the top of the teeth on either side and the gap between the teeth is closed.
A dental bridge is a quick, cheap, and permanent solution for your missing teeth. It involves the mounting of a fabricated crown in order to replace the missing teeth. Dental bridges are attached to the healthy teeth, requiring at least two healthy teeth on each side of the bridge. These teeth that anchor the dental bridge in place are called abutment teeth, and the replacement tooth is called a pontic. Dental bridges can replace up to four missing teeth.
Dental bridges are a good alternative when you can’t afford dental implants, or dental implants are contraindicated for health reasons.
With the help of a dental bridge, you can repair your smile, maintain the normal shape of your face, restore the ability to chew normally, as well as to speak normally.
There are three types of dental bridges available:
- Cantilever bridges – These are mostly used for teeth that are located in the back of the mouth. This type of dental bridge is no longer commonly recommended. This type of dental bridge is used when there are healthy teeth only on one side of the missing tooth.
- Traditional bridges – These are the most common type of dental bridges, which consists in creation of a crown for the tooth on either side of the missing tooth with a pontic in between.
- Maryland bonded bridges – These are bridges with wings attached on each side of the teeth. The metal wings are fixed to the backs of the adjacent teeth.
When are dental bridges recommended?
A dental bridge is recommended for closing the gap between teeth. Up to four missing teeth can be replaced with a dental bridge.
How is a dental bridge performed?
First of all, your teeth need to be prepared for the bridge to fit. This means that they are reduced in size on the sides. Dental impressions are also taken in order for the laboratory technician to produce the right dental bridge for your teeth. Once the bridge is done, it fits like a cap over the top, being cemented on either side and closing the gaps between teeth.
A dental bridge is performed under local anesthesia and the procedure itself takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Today, dental bridges are available in many different materials, like porcelain, zirconia, etc.
What to expect after a dental bridge
Eating on the side where the dental bridge has been applied should be avoided for some time after the procedure. Solid foods should also be avoided, as the bridge can become loose.
It is normal for patients to experience a certain level of discomfort after a dental bridge is applied. Patients may have sensitivity to cold or hot drinks and food for the first couple of weeks. Usually these symptoms subside after a few weeks. Patients who have recently had a dental bridge may also experience a dull pain for some time once the bridge has been fitted.
Important facts about dental bridges
It is important to know that a dental bridge is not recommended for a tooth that has just been extracted. The reason is that the gum tissue normally requires some time to heal before applying a dental bridge.
Losing a tooth or teeth might not seem like a big issue, but, if left untreated, it can lead to further problems, like difficulty in biting and chewing. It may also cause damage to the remaining teeth. A visit to a dentist will make one aware of the different options to closing the gap in the teeth and which one is best suited for your condition. One of these options is a dental bridge. The dental bridge can close a gap of up to four teeth and is preferred when there are healthy teeth on both sides of the gap.
The dental bridge is made with all the required replacements attached to each other with an extra tooth on each side. These two extra teeth are crowns that are placed over the adjacent healthy teeth, which have been specially prepared for the procedure. Once the bridge is fitted, it is cemented in place, and this cementing might be temporary for a couple of weeks before being made permanent. A dental bridge cannot be removed daily like dentures. Dental bridges are usually made with porcelain or ceramic attached to a noble non-reactive metal, and they last for about ten to fifteen years. Brushing one’s teeth twice daily and maintaining good dental hygiene are important for dental bridge maintenance.