What is a Dental Bridge? / What are Dental Bridges for?
If you feel afraid to smile in public like you normally do because of a gap in your teeth, you are one of the millions of people that would benefit from a dental bridge. A gap in your teeth does a lot more than just take away your smile. It can also lead to problems chewing, talking, and temporomandibular joint disorder.
What are dental bridges?
These are dental implants that bridge the gap between missing teeth. A bridge consists of two crowns on both sides of the gap (called abutment teeth), and a false tooth or teeth as needed to fill the gap. These false teeth – also known as pontics – and typically consist of porcelain, gold, or alloys.
There are three main types of dental bridges that are commonly used:
- Traditional bridges
- Cantilever bridges
- Maryland-Bonded bridges
Traditional bridges involve creating crowns for the teeth or implants on either side of the gap, then bridging the gap with a pontic. While cantilever bridges mainly apply when there are only teeth on one side of the gap, usually at the back of the mouth. Maryland-bonded bridges involve attaching a resin-bonded bridge to the teeth on opposite sides of the gap, via wings on the bridge.
“Why is it so important to take care of gaps in my teeth?”
Well, there’s a long list of reasons. For starters, your teeth are designed to work together, so when one goes missing, the other teeth will drift towards the hole created in an attempt to fill the hole. That includes the teeth on the opposite jaw as well. In addition, the jawbone might begin to shrink when a tooth is missing, and that affects a lot more than your smile or ability to chew or speak properly.
A shrunken jawbone will affect the way the face looks, making one appear older. Teeth that drift due to a missing tooth/teeth are also harder to clean, increasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
What to expect when getting a dental bridge
Once you decide to take care of the gap in your teeth, it is time to consult a dentist. Getting a dental bridge is not something you are going to do at home in your bathroom. It requires the expertise of a dentist, and it also requires at least two visits.
The first thing your dentist will do is make an impression of the tooth/teeth closest to the gap. We will send the impression over to a lab to create the dental bridge. It is not uncommon for dentists to put in a temporary bridge to protect your teeth while you wait for the permanent bridge and crowns. That can take anywhere from several days to a few weeks.
Installation will not be as complex as people think
When your permanent bridge is ready, you will be notified by your dentist. Your permanent bridge and crowns will be attached during your next visit.
That is all there is to getting a dental bridge to close a gap in your teeth. There is little to no pain or discomfort with this procedure, but it will keep your teeth and face looking as healthy as possible.
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