If you've recently had the unfortunate experience of losing a tooth or two, you've probably had some conversations with your dental professional about the best solution for your smile. While losing teeth is never fun, you do have treatment options. Perhaps you lost a tooth to decay or recently had an accident that resulted in an injury to your smile. Beyond aesthetics, missing teeth can cause other issues like speech impediments and periodontal disease. But a tooth bridge could be your ideal preventive solution to these problems. Also known as a dental bridge, it can provide the support that will prevent your surrounding teeth from loosening or moving out of their correct positions. Let's go over what a dental bridge is, why it may be right for you, and how it's different from another treatment option: a dental implant.
Why You Might Want a Tooth Bridge Over Implants
A dental bridge is a fixed appliance that fits into your mouth to fill the gap caused by missing teeth. It's cemented to the "abutment teeth." These are on either side of the gap where your missing teeth once were. Your dental professional places artificial teeth, also known as pontic teeth, onto the bridge in the space between the abutment teeth. Your dental bridge works as an anchor that teeth replacements fit into, thus bringing your smile back to its complete and appearance.
You may be wondering why you would choose a bridge over an implant. Dental implants are posts made from screws or cylinders inserted surgically through your gum into your jawbone. Pontic teeth are then mounted individually on each of these screw posts to take the place of natural teeth. By getting implants, you're preventing the same problems you would if you chose to get a dental bridge. But keep in mind that fitting implants is a much more complicated procedure that requires surgery and several months of visiting your dental professional. It can also be a much more costly procedure.
As noted above, gaps of any size between your teeth can cause problems. Some common issues that arise from missing teeth are as follows:
- The adjacent teeth begin to loosen, which causes them to shift out of their correct positions.
- Loose teeth in children may complicate the eruption of permanent teeth. This encourages their permanent teeth to come through improperly.
- Gaps and movement in teeth can affect your bite, creating issues for your jaw and hindering your ability to speak and chew.
In the long term, a lack of dental support can cause other health issues, such as head or earaches and nose and throat irritation. This makes it essential to replace missing teeth as early as possible, rather than waiting for an issue to arise.
There are four main types of dental bridges.
- A traditional fixed bridge is the most common. It is a connected row of two or more crowns and a filler tooth (or teeth).
- A Maryland dental bridge, also known as the resin-bonded bridge, is a standard solution to missing front teeth. Wings attach the bridge to your existing teeth.
- A cantilever bridge has only one connection to the abutment tooth, rather than on both sides of the bridge. It's an option for people who have teeth on only one side where the missing tooth was.
- An implant-supported bridge is a dental implant bridge. Its strength comes from a dental bridge with implants rather than its connection on either side to the natural abutment teeth.
If your teeth are in excellent condition, then you won't have to worry about placing crowns or fitting a bridge to them. Good oral hygiene is essential at any time, but when you're wearing a fixed appliance such as a dental bridge, it's even more crucial. Caring for your bridge appropriately gives it a lifespan of up to 10 years. Just as you need to brush natural teeth daily using an appropriate toothbrush to remove plaque, you also need to thoroughly clean your bridgework, use dental floss, a water flosser, or an interdental device to clean between your teeth. Taking care of your bridge means taking care of your oral health.
While you may feel overwhelmed when you first discover you're missing a tooth, remember that you have treatment options! A dental bridge is a safe and effective option to restore your smile and prevent further dental issues. It's also a more convenient option than an implant, which requires surgery and a longer recovery time. Regardless of the treatment you choose, you should see your dental professional right away. This will ensure you take all the necessary preventive measures to keep your mouth healthy, your surrounding teeth safe, and your smile confident!
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.