Missing teeth not only affect your self-confidence, they can also cause a multitude of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to problems eating and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the world of dentistry has several excellent options for replacing lost teeth. One of the most simple and reliable methods is the dental bridge. Dr. Brent Engelberg and the skilled dental professionals at AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL want to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a healthy, beautiful smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (artificial replacement part) that replaces a missing tooth. It is a dental crown supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the crown is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge) while the healthy adjacent teeth which support the pontic on either side are called “abutments.” The completed prosthesis crosses over the gap in your smile as a bridge crosses a canyon.
The teeth that will support the pontic must be prepared by being crowned or “capped.” This process is much the same as if the teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage. However, this is done by removing outer enamel to create enough space for the crown to fit over and completely cover them while maintaining a lifelike appearance. The pontic is really just another crown but with no living tooth underneath.
Building a Bridge
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 to serve as the pontic. 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 form your 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 are missing.
So if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-unit bridge. Engineering and designing a dental bridge requires an understanding of not only teeth themselves but of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone as well.
What to Expect
Getting bridgework completed usually requires two visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared as previously described. The dentist will take molds of your prepared teeth in order to prepare three-dimensional models of your teeth, which will be used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office so that you can still eat and talk normally.
When your permanent bridge is ready, you will return for it to be permanently placed. You may need some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but will eventually come to accept it as part of your own teeth.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious oral hygiene and dental care as your other teeth. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss every day to reduce the build-up of cavity-causing dental plaque which, although it cannot harm the crowns, can destroy the natural teeth beneath. It is even more important to schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge. A well-cared-for bridge can last you about 10 years with proper care.
Dental Bridges in Arlington Heights, IL
If you are in the Arlington Heights/Chicago, 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 Dr. Engelberg today.