When teeth are lost and not replaced, eating, speaking and aesthetics can be compromised. When tooth replacement is delayed too long, the shape of your face can begin to change, you can develop jaw joint disorders and your ability to chew can be impacted. This can lead to poor nutrition and force other teeth to drift out of position causing tooth decay, gum diseases and other oral health issues.
If you are missing a tooth or teeth, whether due to dental disease, an accident or poor oral health, we may be able to fill the space(s) with a dental bridge. Dental bridges replace missing teeth with one or more artificial teeth. In the past, these bridges were made from metal or porcelain fused to metal; but with the introduction of newer, stronger ceramic materials, we now have additional options when selecting the materials used in the fabrication of a bridge. Dental bridges last an average of five to ten years but could last a lifetime if you maintain good oral hygiene and come in for regular check-ups.
The Dental Bridge Procedure
First, we will take an impression of the missing tooth or teeth, the abutment teeth (i.e., the teeth that neighbour the missing tooth or teeth that will be used to support the bridge), and the surrounding area of the jaw and gums.
From there, we decide from three types of dental bridges:
- A traditional bridge: This is used when the abutment teeth are strong and can support the bridge. Think of it like installing a hammock on two trees.
- An implant bridge: This is used when the abutment teeth are dental implants. Factors like the amount of abutment tooth surface the dentist has to work with and the number of teeth making up the bridge factor into determining whether an implant bridge is the right approach. Following the hammock analogy, this would be like putting two poles in the ground to hang your hammock on because the trees are either too far apart or are not strong enough to support the hammock.
- A bonded bridge: This is used primarily as a dental bridge for front teeth. The abutment teeth received minimal treatment and the bridge is cemented so that it is invisible.
Once the decision on which bridge to use has been made, we send the measurements to our lab to create a bridge that perfectly fits your mouth. During this process we typically install a temporary bridge, connected to the abutment teeth. In about two weeks, when your permanent bridge is ready, we replace the temporary bridge with the permanent one.
The bridged area can be sensitive for the first few days following the procedure, but this does not tend to last long. If required, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are used to manage discomfort.
This following video further explains bridging and the bridging process.
The Advantage of Dental Bridging to Natural Teeth
When the abutment teeth are not dental implants, a dental bridge is a fast, effective way to replace missing teeth, restore function and improve aesthetics.
The Disadvantage of Dental Bridging to Natural Teeth
The one major disadvantage is that the natural teeth will be drilled in order to fabricate the bridge which can compromise their longevity.
Like natural teeth, bridges are never removed, and they should be brushed and flossed daily. Your dentist will teach you how to care for your bridge so you can keep eating, speaking, smiling and looking your best for years to come.
Most often, your dentist will recommend implants for replacing missing teeth because bridges require treating the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth or teeth. However, there are many situations where a bridge will be recommended over an implant. For example:
Non-repairable bone loss: In the area where the teeth are missing there may be an insufficient amount of bone for a dental implant to be placed.
Cost considerations: Bridges are generally less expensive than implants.
Medical considerations: Based on your overall health, you may not be a candidate to have an implant placed.
After an examination of the tooth or teeth being replaced, your dentist will be able to advise you of the recommended treatment options.
Are you missing a tooth or teeth that you want to replace?
Make an appointment for an examination and we will let you know if bridging is an appropriate approach for you.