Dr. Robert E. Lane D.M.D.
in Boca Raton, FL
Missing teeth can adversely affect the appearance and functionality of your smile. In essence, dental bridges are used to fill in the gap for missing teeth. Dental bridges can lower risk of infections, shifting of the teeth, and speech impediments, to name a few concerns. Dental bridges provide a more permanent solution to common issues like a missing tooth or severely damaged ones.
However, just like any other dental approach, a dentist is the one to decide if a dental bridge is right for you.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge fills the space where one or more teeth are missing. Dental bridges are made of up to two or more crowns, and fake teeth (also known as pontics). They are supported by natural teeth or existing implants. Their main purpose is to preserve your damaged teeth to avoid additional tooth loss.
When Do You Need a Dental Bridge?
The moment you have a missing tooth, you need to fill in the space. Dental bridges restore the natural appearance of your smile. Besides, when you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth try to drift into the gap, affecting your bite and eventually causing pain due to the extra stress on your teeth.
Types of Dental Bridges?
Similar to dental crowns, bridges are made from different materials like metal, porcelain, or different combinations. Your dentist will be the one to decide which material is the right choice for you.
Traditional bridges require a crown or natural tooth on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic or false tooth in the middle. These bridges are usually made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramic.
Cantilever bridges are commonly used when only one side of the adjacent tooth is missing. Fundamentally, cantilever bridges are just attached to one side. This type of bridge is not very common since it places more force on the other teeth, which could cause further damage.
Maryland Bonded Bridges
Maryland bonded bridges, also known as resin-bonded bridges, are maintained by a metal or porcelain framework. These dental bridges are often used to replace teeth at the front of the mouth thanks to their natural appearance. With Maryland bridges, pontics or false teeth are fused to a metal band, which are then fixed to the real teeth with resin cement.
How Is a Bridge Attached?
Dental bridges usually require 2 to 3 dentist visits. During the first visit, the abutment, or real teeth, are prepared. At this point, the abutment teeth are trimmed down to provide room for the bridge. Next, impressions of the teeth are made, which serve as a mold for the bridge, the pontics, and the crowns. At this point, your dentist will provide a temporary bridge to protect your exposed teeth and gums while your permanent bridge is being made.
During the second visit, your temporary bridge is removed and the new one will be checked and adjusted, as necessary, to create a proper fit and avoid any discomfort. Occasionally, multiple visits will be needed to determine the proper fit. Once you have agreed on the correct fit, your dentist will cement it in place.
Is a Dental Bridge Painful?
Like many other dental procedures, local anesthetic is applied to the area to avoid any discomfort. Once the area is numb, your dentist will then proceed to start the preparation for the bridge. While the process is not very pleasant, patients do not usually experience any pain during or after the procedure. In some cases, someone may experience a slight pressure on the area, which will soon go away.
Benefits of a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges provide many benefits to those who need them. Missing teeth or even missing one tooth can cause degenerative damage to your smile and jaw complexion, so taking action with a dental bridge can:
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
- Reestablish your ability to correctly chew and smile
- Preserve the shape of your face
- Distribute the forces in your bite properly
- Relieve stress from your jaw bone
- Restore your smile