The traditional method used to replace a missing tooth or teeth includes the fabrication of a bridge. A bridge usually consists of three or more ‘crowns’ joined together to create a unit of bridgework. To replace a missing tooth with a bridge, at least one tooth on either side of the space created by the missing tooth must be prepared for a crown. Then an artificial tooth (pontic) is joined to those crowns, and the entire structure is cemented to the prepared teeth. The patient cannot remove the bridge, and special aids are available to keep it clean.
Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age. But, if you do lose teeth, they must be replaced to maintain proper positioning and function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss, which include dental implants and/or bridges.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you are already well aware of the need to replace it. The staff of Ousborne and Keller understands that all of your teeth play an important role in your ability to speak, chew and bite properly. A single missing tooth can affect the proper alignment of all of your other teeth. Missing teeth can and should be replaced and bridges are a great way to restore dental health and appearance.
Why do I need a bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are both very important reasons to consider a bridge. Moreover, a bridge also helps to support your cheeks and lips. The loss of a back tooth may cause your cheeks to fold in, as well as cause your face to look older. As the back teeth are lost, your bite could collapse and the tip of your nose will get closer to the tip of your chin, creating an aged appearance. Missing teeth can also contribute to speech disorders, as they assist in making many of the sounds we use to speak clearly. A missing tooth or teeth can drastically affect a person’s ability to chew food properly, which can cause a plethora of digestive issues.
Drs. Ousborne and Keller believe in the importance of keeping your teeth for a lifetime. Teeth were naturally designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the jaw bone, the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing. Increased risk of gum disease has been proven to be one of the most detrimental side effects of missing teeth and can be drastically minimized with the placement of a dental bridge.
The Bridge Process
The bridge process usually takes two or four appointments to complete, depending on the number of teeth involved. At the first appointment, the dentist will prepare the teeth on either side of the space by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin to accommodate the thickness of the crown material.
The bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure the correct bite and to match the opposing teeth. Digital impressions of the teeth are taken and sent via computer to the laboratory. Sometimes try-ins of the bridgework in its preliminary stages is necessary to assure accurate fit.
Once the bridge is fabricated, it is the cemented to the natural teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth or teeth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the adjacent natural teeth as part of the bridge, provide the necessary support for the new bridge.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance, since the bridge relies on the health of the neighboring teeth, gums and other tissues for support.
- Relatively quick way to replace a missing tooth/teeth
- Helps to restore chewing function
- Prevents drifting or shifting of remaining teeth
- Maintain support of lips and cheeks to prevent aged appearance