woman smiling after dental bridge procedure

After A Dental Bridge Procedure: What To Expect

It might shock you to learn that the average adult has three decayed or missing teeth, according to the American Dental Association. Even though the procedure involved can be complicated and take multiple dental visits, many find the benefits to be worth the effort. We're here to help break down what to expect afterward.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges are an attractive option to cover gaps left by any missing teeth. These helpful prosthetics fill the space where one or more of your teeth used to be. Unlike dentures, they can't be removed from your mouth and are secured onto your surrounding teeth.

Your dentist can cover teeth lost from disease or accidental damage with dental bridges. This feature means they could be a great solution to most missing teeth you have, whatever the cause. However, it's a requirement that the surrounding teeth or implants be healthy and have adequate bone support.

Bridges made from porcelain and ceramic often match your natural teeth. Materials for dental bridges vary by location, function, appearance, and cost.

Helpful fact: False teeth in a bridge are also called pontics. The natural teeth the bridge is secured to are known as abutments.

How do Dental Bridges Work?

Many people ask how a dental bridge should fit. Bridges fill in the gap left by a tooth or multiple missing teeth by securing a false tooth to surrounding teeth or implants. The false tooth provides a "bridge" between your healthy teeth. In return, the surrounding teeth offer strength and support to the bridge.

Dental bridges have an impressive range of applications. Missing teeth can lead to several problems, including leaving many unhappy with their look.

We recommend being proactive in treating missing teeth because they can cause problems if not replaced. A gap in your teeth can cause other teeth to rotate or shift. Fixing can prevent improper alignment of your bite, gum disease, or even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

There are four types of bridges:

  • Traditional include one or more artificial teeth cemented to both adjacent teeth through crowns.
  • Cantilever feature an artificial tooth connected to a single natural tooth via a crown.
  • Maryland fuse artificial teeth to the back of surrounding teeth and are usually used to replace visible front teeth.
  • Implant-supported are traditional bridges, strengthened by implants instead of being attached to natural teeth.

What Is the Dental Bridge Procedure?

Because the procedure involves multiple steps, installing a dental bridge takes more than one dental visit.

These are the steps typically taken to implant a traditional bridge:

  1. The dentist injects a local anesthetic into your gum near the site of the future bridge.
  2. The dentist prepares the supporting teeth through shaping by making room for a crown to be placed over them.
  3. The dentist creates an impression of your teeth.
  4. The dentist creates a temporary bridge or crown to protect your mouth. In contrast, a bridge is custom-made by a laboratory.
  5. The dentist removes your temporary bridge or crown and fits your new, permanent bridge.
  6. To ensure a perfect fit, the dentist may secure the bridge with cement for several weeks before permanent placement.

Ask your dentist to see if a dental bridge is right for you and how they should fit.

How Do I Adjust to My New Dental Bridge?

Your new bridge may require a period of adjustment to get used to the new prosthetic or modified bite.

A modest amount of swelling or discomfort is typical after a dental procedure. Talk to your dentist if they persist or reach a concerning level. To help ease any discomfort, gargle with a mix of four ounces of warm water and one tablespoon of salt.

Fortunately, dental bridges can benefit your quality of life beyond your appearance, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Benefits experienced by some with new bridges:

  • Restored smile
  • Enhanced experience eating and chewing
  • Improved bite and lowered pressure on the rest of your teeth
  • Upgraded ability to speak clearly (for those with bridges in the front of the mouth)
  • Reduced drooping of your face or cheeks

We recommend paying particular attention to your dental routine after a bridge procedure. This time is a perfect opportunity to create healthy habits.

How Do I Care for My Dental Bridge?

Dental hygiene is an essential factor in your bridge's long-term success. Take motivation from the fact that bridges can last over ten years with proper care.

How long does it take for a dental bridge to settle? Only your dentist can advise on the exact amount of time.

It's vital to care for your new bridge and also help the teeth your bridge is attached to remain healthy and strong. Decay and damage to these supporting teeth could lead to complications to your bridge.

Here are some simple tips when caring for your new bridge:

  • Brush twice daily for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss once daily
  • Floss once daily and consider getting a proxabrush to clean effectively under your bridge.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and antiseptic mouth rinse
  • East fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist and dental hygienist

Things to avoid when you have a bridge:

  • Hard and sticky items like caramel, nuts, popcorn kernels, candy, or ice
  • Excessive intake of sugary or acidic food and drinks
  • Smoking and tobacco products

Your new dental bridge should help you feel confident with your smile and dental health. You're in a great place to maintain your bridge and supporting teeth to avoid any complications down the line. With the most challenging part out of the way, enjoy the benefits of your new bridge!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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