In addition to negatively impacting your self-confidence, living with missing teeth can cause a number of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the world of modern dentistry has several options for replacing lost or damaged teeth.
One of the most established, simple and reliable methods 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 your smile to its’ natural appearance and full functioning.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (artificial replacement part) that replaces a missing tooth and is supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is a dental crown called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy neighboring teeth that support it on either side are called abutments. Once completed, the dental prosthesis crosses over the gap left by your missing tooth like a bridge spanning a canyon.
The teeth that will be used as the abutments must be prepared to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” This process is done exactly as if the teeth were being crowned due to tooth decay or damage.
First, their outer enamel is removed, creating enough space to allow the crown to fit over and completely cover them without changing the shape of your mouth. The pontic crown is attached to the crowns on the abutment teeth and will bear the pressure of its’ use for chewing.
Building a Bridge
As explained above, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This arrangement 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 create the bridge. Your dentist must take several variables into account in this calculation: 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.
So if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing the bridge requires an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth.
What to Expect
Having bridgework finished usually requires two separate visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit, you will be given a local anesthetic and your abutment teeth will be prepared as described above. Molds of your prepped teeth will be made in order to prepare three-dimensional models of your teeth. These models will be used to construct the crowns that will fit over the abutment teeth. Your dentist will place a temporary bridge before you leave the appointment.
Once your permanent bridge has been fabricated, it will be placed during your second visit of the process. It may take time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but you will eventually forget that you even have it.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious care as your natural teeth, such as brushing twice daily or after meals and flossing every day to reduce the build-up of dental plaque in between your teeth. However, it is even more important for you to schedule routine exams with your dentist if you have a bridge to make sure it is standing up to regular use.
Bridges must also be used cautiously and not use to bite or chew things that were never meant for human teeth. With a dedication to oral hygiene and regular dental care, a well-cared-for bridge can last for up to 10 years.
Dental Bridges in Arlington Heights, IL
If you live or work in the Arlington Heights, IL 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 AH Smiles today.