Missing teeth can cause a number of problems that are more than cosmetic, such as difficulty speaking normally or difficulty eating which can lead to poor nutrition. Fortunately, our modern dental technology has several effective ways of replacing lost teeth. One of the most established and simple yet reliable methods is with a dental bridge. The skilled dental professionals at Integrated Dental Arts in Greeley, CO want to take a moment to explain the benefits of dental bridges for restoring your smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (replacement part) that fills the gap left by a missing tooth and is anchored to the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the prosthetic replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy adjacent teeth — called abutments — support the pontic on either side. The completed prosthesis extends over the gap in your teeth just like a bridge spanning a river.
As the crown that is the pontic must be attached to them, the teeth that will form the abutment must also be crowned. This is done the same as if the teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage.
First, their enamel is removed, allowing for the crown to completely cover them while maintaining a lifelike appearance and so that they don’t feel overly-large in your mouth. The crowns on the abutment teeth will support the crown acting as the pontic in between. The pontic is really just another crown but without a living tooth under it.
Building a Bridge
As previously explained, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This arrangement is known as a three-unit bridge.
However, when more than one tooth is missing, more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to create the bridge. Your dentist must account for several variables with this arrangement: the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and also from where in the mouth the teeth were lost.
So if you are missing three teeth in a row, four abutment teeth may need to be prepared and harnessed, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing the bridge requires your IDA dentist to understand the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth.
What to Expect
Getting bridgework completed usually requires two separate office visits to your IDA dentist. At the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared by removing the outer enamel as detailed above. Molds of your prepared teeth will be taken to construct three-dimensional models of your teeth, used to create your crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office.
Once your permanent bridge is ready, it will be permanently placed place during the second appointment. It may take a little time for you to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but eventually it will feel no different from your own natural teeth
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious care as your other teeth. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss everyday to clear away the build-up of dental plaque. It is even more important to schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge since a bridge can last for a long time with proper care.
Dental Bridges in Greeley, CO
If you are in the Greeley area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call 970.281.5972 or schedule online with Integrated Dental Arts today.