To a young child, a missing tooth is no big deal. In fact, it is a chapter of growing up and traditionally means something special from the Tooth Fairy under your pillow. And let’s face it; the unfettered smiles of youth look adorable with a lost tooth.
Unfortunately, many of the great things about being a kid lose their luster in grown-up life and a missing tooth is not enjoyable at all. It makes it difficult to speak and effectively communicate, properly bite down, and even eat. Indeed, effective oral care is a critical step in contributing to and maintaining overall health throughout the body.
In cases of missing teeth due to damage, infection, or other medical issue; dental bridges are used to replace a lost tooth and connect to adjoining brethren. In the dental field, a replacement tooth is referred to as a pontic and teeth on either side are called abutments.
Why are dental bridges important?
Your mouth and teeth are responsible for a great many things, from eating a piece of your favorite pie to maintaining the natural shape of your face. Let’s look at some ways dental bridges help improve oral health.
Restores chewing function
Have you ever tried to chew with even one missing tooth? Aside from being awkward and uncomfortable, a gap between teeth can lead to significant jaw pain and related breakdown in the natural system because remaining teeth cannot operate in an optimal way. When opposing teeth erupt, or shift farther than designed, it is called a supereruption and this exposes a tooth’s roots to gum disease and strong sensitivity.
Replacing a missing tooth with a bridge solves the issue of supereruption and benefits the entire facial system as well.
Speak clearly and satisfy your appetite
In addition to difficulty chewing with a missing tooth; speaking can be equally frustrating. If the missing tooth is at or near the front of your mouth, where the tongue works to form words, simply uttering a single sentence is difficult. Lisps or spittle can also be embarrassing but dental bridges close the troublesome gap to help revive your natural speech functions. Best of all, you can go back to eating most anything you want.
Bridges hold teeth in place
A gap between teeth is the first step in a very negative chain of oral events. Remaining teeth will naturally gravitate toward available space and exposed roots and change in bite points can eventually lead to further tooth loss.
Dental bridges are used to anchor replacement teeth in place and keeps existing teeth where they’re supposed to be.
Next to a healthy mouth and body, perhaps the best thing about dental bridges is the return of your smile. If you feel self-conscious or ashamed due to a missing tooth and shy away from photos or even public spaces; a dental bridge, especially for front teeth, can significantly boost your confidence and quality of life. A bright, healthy smile goes a long way in brightening your day from the inside and those around you as well.
Types of dental bridges
Dental bridges are typically classified into three categories:
A Traditional bridge is the most common and popular bridge type. They are made of ceramic, or porcelain fused to a metal structure. A crown is then made for teeth on opposite sides of the gap and an artificial tooth is placed between.
Cantilever bridges are used when two healthy teeth are not available on either side of a missing tooth. In this case the abutment teeth are prepared accordingly and then the pontic (artificial tooth) is attached.
A Maryland bridge is a metal frame connecting a pontic attached to porcelain or metal wings cemented to adjoin abutment teeth. Some patients choose Maryland bridges as a more conservative approach.
What to expect during the procedure
Your first appointment entails the dentist removing enamel from the abutment teeth to ready them for crowns. After this step, the dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send them to a lab that will create the bridge, crowns, and pontic. You will have a temporary bridge to wear in the roughly two-week span of building the permanent bridge.
The temporary bridge will then be removed and replaced with the permanent model, and checked for the best fit. Several office visits may be needed to ensure everything is in great shape.
For more information on dental bridges and oral health, contact Rancho San Diego Dental at (619) 363-6296 or visit ranchosandiegodental.com.