Dental bridges cover unsightly and problematic gaps where teeth have gone absent without leave. Gapped tooth smiles then become a thing of the past, and you can look forward to a healthy and bright smile for years to come. But there’s more to dental bridges than just that.
The consequences of missing teeth
Missing teeth can have a major impact on your dental health. When there are gaps, the remaining teeth tend to try to fill them. The surrounding teeth may shift or twist in order to fill the gap, or opposing teeth could lengthen, in order to compensate for the lack of opposition.
- This movement and counterbalancing growth can influence your bite, and the way you chew. And this, in turn, can affect what you can eat, and how comfortable you feel while doing so. It can also alter the way you speak. Worst of all, it can lead to a possible loss of gum tissue and the bone that supports your teeth.
- On the aesthetics front, gaps not only spoil the perfection of your smile, but they can also mar your appearance in other ways. Lost teeth can change your facial appearance, causing sunken cheeks, and increasing wrinkles round the mouth. That can send your self- image and confidence levels to even lower levels than those reached because of the gap-toothed smile.
- Tooth movement to fill gaps can also lead to future oral health problems and possibly more tooth loss in the future. The shifting and unbalanced growth of teeth can lead to difficulties when it comes to maintaining oral hygiene. The unnatural situation that develops makes it difficult to clean your teeth and can cause plaque and tartar to develop. This build-up can result in gum disease, further tooth loss, and possibly in bone loss.
What is a bridge?
A dental bridge involves one artificial tooth (or more) joined permanently to anchor crowns on healthy teeth each side of the gap. In essence, they are similar to a partial denture, but you cannot remove a bridge, while you can take out a partial denture.
The false teeth themselves, called pontics, are made of gold, porcelain or alloys, and sometimes from a mix of these substances. They are attached permanently to porcelain caps or crowns on the adjacent or abutment teeth. The advent of 3D printing has revolutionised the production of dental bridges and crowns by simplifying the production process, and reducing the time involved in fitting the final bridgework.
Dental bridges can rely on the support of implants instead of adjacent teeth. And the support can work both ways. If your dentist at Kerrisdale Dental is not satisfied that your jawbone can support individual implants, a bridge linking them can keep them secure.
What are the advantages of bridges?
Bridges have several advantages.
- They are very strong and last for a long time.
- Their appearance is natural, and, if fitted correctly, they are perfectly comfortable.
- They enable you to eat normally, with the possible exception of sticky and hard foods, which might damage the anchor crowns, or become stuck under the bridge. Ask your dentist’s advice on what you should omit from your diet.
- Bridges will help prevent facial appearance changes that can follow tooth loss, and restore your smile, as well as normal speech.
- Bridges help to protect your bite and the positioning of your teeth.
Bridging the gap
Try not to leave it too long after losing a tooth to take action. The procedure will be easier to do and more likely to have a good result if done immediately. Contact your dentist and set up a program for the various phases of the procedure. First, the abutment teeth have to be prepared for the crowns to be bonded on to them. Impressions of the teeth are sent to a laboratory for the crowns, bridge and pontics to be made. A temporary bridge protects the area until it is replaced with the permanent one.