It is unfortunate, but tooth loss is a part of life for many people. Luckily, we offer several options for tooth replacement to get your smile back on track. If you leave tooth loss untreated, you will eventually experience future complications. Your remaining teeth will compensate for the open space and shift, thus causing misalignments with your bite and crooked teeth. For patients who are missing one or more adjacent teeth, LakeView Dental Arts may recommend a dental bridge as a possible solution.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
Dental bridges are made to replace one or more missing teeth. The appliance literally “bridges” the gap created by the missing teeth.
In general, there are four types of bridges:
- Traditional Bridge—A traditional bridge consists of two dental crowns, which are connected by a pontic, or false tooth or teeth. The dental crowns are anchored to two teeth on either side of the open space. These teeth must be completely reshaped to properly accommodate the crowns. The downside to a traditional bridge is that if something happens to one of these teeth that support the bridge, the entire bridge is compromised. The other downside is that the teeth that support the bridge have to be reduced to hold the crown.
- Cantilever Bridge—This bridge is much less common than it once was due to technological advancements such as dental implants. A cantilever bridge is supported by a single crown rather than one on both sides. Cantilever bridges may lead to complications, such as fractured teeth or loosened crowns, due to the biting force not being well supported (think of a see-saw).
- Maryland Bridge—A Maryland bridge is considered a conservative alternative to traditional bridges because the pontic is held in place by a metal or porcelain framework. This means your adjacent teeth do not need to be reshaped. Maryland bridges are typically not as durable as other options, especially under strong bite pressures. Typically, they can only be done on the front teeth.
- Implant-Supported Bridges—Implant-supported bridges are the ideal solution for patients missing more than one tooth. Instead of adjacent teeth, we use dental implants to support the bridge. Implants serve as the root component of a prosthetic tooth. They offer superior strength, durability, and longevity over other options.
The procedure for a traditional bridge is broken up into several appointments. During your first visit, Dr. Walmsley will prepare your abutment teeth for the crowns. The enamel will be completely reshaped. After we have reshaped your teeth, we will take a digital scan of the area to be sent off to the lab, where they will fabricate your final restoration. In most cases, you will receive a temporary bridge while we wait for them to make your final one.
During your second visit, Dr. Walmsley will remove the temporary and check the margins of your final bridge. We may need to make some last-minute adjustments to achieve the proper fit. Once everything is perfect, Dr. Walmsley will permanently cement the bridge into place.
Caring for Your Bridge
The most important thing you can do to help your bridge last is to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong. In fact, the success of your bridge depends on it! Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash. To clean in between the bridge and your gums, you will have to use a special floss or brush. Dr. Walmsley will show you how to properly maintain your bridge at your final appointment. Many people also choose to use a water flosser to prevent food from being trapped under the bridge.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you are missing one or more teeth, call (865) 376-9687, and schedule your appointment today!