Missing teeth can cause a myriad of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating and poor nutrition in addition to making you feel self-conscious about your smile. Fortunately, the world of dentistry has invented several effective means of replacing lost teeth, the most established and reliable method is the dental bridge.
The skilled dental professionals at AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL want to take a moment to explain the benefits of dental bridges for restoring a healthy smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a prosthesis (replacement part) for a missing tooth that fills in the gap and is supported on the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the crown that fills the space is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy adjacent teeth to which the pontic is anchored and that support the pontic on either side are called abutments. Once completed prosthesis crosses over the gap in your teeth exactly like a bridge spanning a canyon hence the name.
The abutment teeth must be prepared to support the pontic by being crowned or “capped.” This is done in much the same way as if the teeth needed crowns due to damage or decay. First, their enamel is chiseled away, creating enough space for the crown to fit over top of them, completely covering them while maintaining a lifelike appearance. The crowns mounted on the abutment teeth will support the false tooth (pontic) in between. The pontic is really just another crown but without the root of a living tooth underneath.
Building a Bridge
One missing tooth will require three crowns to build a bridge: one for each abutment on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and the pontic in between. This configuration is known as a three-unit bridge.
If more than one tooth is missing, more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to form the bridge. Your dentist must account for several variables to figure out just how many teeth will be affected: the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and also from where in the mouth the teeth were lost.
Therefore, if you are missing three teeth in a row, four teeth may be necessary to create a stable abutment, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Your dentist must understand both the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth to properly create a bridge.
What to Expect
Bridgework usually requires two visits to your dentist’s office. At the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared as described above. Molds of these teeth will be taken to construct the crowns using three-dimensional models of your teeth, used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office.
Once your permanent bridge has been constructed, it will be permanently placed place during the second visit. You may need some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but you will eventually forget that it is even there.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth must be cared for just as often as you care for your other teeth. Brushing twice daily and flossing every day is necessary to reduce the build-up of dental plaque that can lead to decay and gum disease. More importantly, keeping regular cleanings with your dental provider is essential if you have a bridge. With proper care, a bridge can last a lifetime.
Dental Bridges in Arlington Heights, IL
If you are in the Arlington Heights area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (847) 230-9703 or schedule online with an AH Smiles dentist today.