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Closing the Gap with a Dental Bridge

Whether you’ve lost one tooth or several, living with gaps along your gumline can affect your daily life. Missing one or more teeth can make it difficult to chew or talk. It can also make you feel self-conscious when you open your mouth to smile or speak. 

Given that you can lose teeth as a result of damage, disease, or decay, having missing teeth isn’t uncommon. Adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have three or more missing or decayed teeth. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for replacing missing teeth: dental bridges.

In this blog, dental bridge specialist Trent W. Smallwood, DDS, at the Centre for Contemporary Dental Concepts in Tempe, Arizona, explains why missing teeth need to be replaced and how a dental bridge is a great option to do just that.

Why you shouldn’t ignore missing teeth

Your oral health depends on having a full set of teeth, even if some are artificial. When teeth are in place, the roots stimulate your jawbone during chewing, which triggers the release of nutrients to your jaw. Losing a tooth can weaken the jawbone in the gap, making it unable to support your lips and cheeks properly, which can change the way you look.

Furthermore, leaving the gaps of missing teeth empty can put more pressure on the remaining teeth when eating and chewing, and thus give the remaining teeth a shorter lifespan. A dental bridge will resolve the cosmetic and functional problems that can result from missing teeth. It can also help maintain your facial structure by preventing your remaining teeth from drifting into the gaps and becoming misaligned. 

How a dental bridge works

A dental bridge is a prosthetic device that uses one or more artificial teeth to fill in — or bridge — a gap from missing teeth. The bridge is anchored to nearby teeth to give you a permanent replacement.

A lab manufactures the dental bridge to fit your mouth precisely, based on 3-D scans and digital X-rays of your mouth. The artificial teeth will match the color and appearance of your natural teeth. 

Most dental bridges are produced from porcelain, a material that closely matches the color of natural teeth and the way they reflect light. Some dental bridges use ceramic.

After your mouth has been scanned and the lab has created your bridge, Dr. Smallwood attaches your finished dental bridge to your mouth with a permanent bonding solution. Once in place, you’ll return in 2-3 weeks to ensure everything is working correctly.

Type of dental bridges

Depending on the location of your gap and the condition of your mouth, Dr. Smallwood will select the type of dental bridge that will provide the best solution for you. 

Traditional bridge

A traditional dental bridge works by using the intact teeth on both sides of the gap as anchors for the bridge. The anchor teeth often need to be fitted with dental crowns to hold the bridge in place.

Cantilever bridge

If you have natural teeth on only one side of the gap, you may need a cantilever bridge. This dental bridge is supported by only one anchor tooth. 

Maryland bridge

Like a traditional bridge, a Maryland dental bridge relies on the adjacent teeth for support. However, a Maryland dental bridge is bonded to your existing teeth with metal framework wings that reach out on both sides of the artificial tooth. The wings are bonded to the tongue sides of the healthy teeth. 

Implant-supported bridge

An implant-supported dental bridge uses dental implants instead of natural teeth to anchor the bridge. While this treatment produces the strongest dental bridge, the process involves two surgeries: one to install the implants and one to install the dental bridge. 

Results of dental bridges

When properly fitted, your dental bridge will function and appear like your natural teeth when you smile, speak, and eat. Since it’s cemented in place, your bridge will stay secure. You can enjoy normal eating and chewing with a dental bridge, though you should avoid biting into hard foods, such as nuts or hard candy.

Maintenance for a dental bridge requires brushing and flossing twice a day and getting professional cleanings twice a year. You will have to take special care to floss between the crowns and under the bridge to prevent bacteria from settling in those places and affecting the bridge. With proper care, a dental bridge can last up to 15 years before requiring replacement.

To find out if a dental bridge is the right solution for your missing teeth, book an appointment online or over the phone with the Centre for Contemporary Dental Concepts today.

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