Dental health is paramount in not only achieving the perfect smile but also in maintaining overall health. However, missing teeth can compromise oral capability, disrupt normal tasks such as speaking and eating, alter facial aesthetics and even one’s self-confidence. In dental science, one of the most effective solutions for missing teeth is Dental Bridges.
Replacing Missing Teeth with Dental Bridges
An aptly named treatment, a dental bridge, bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. It comprises two or more crowns for the teeth either side of the gap — these anchoring teeth are referred to as abutment teeth — and a false tooth/teeth in the middle. These false teeth called pontics, can be made from different materials like gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these substances, but are often chosen to match the natural shade of the rest of the teeth.
Bridges serve to restore your smile, maintain the shape of your face, and properly distribute the forces in your bite by replacing missing teeth. This replacement prevents remaining teeth from drifting out of position, which could lead to misalignments and bite issues over time.
Types of Dental Bridges
There are four main types of dental bridges, each offering unique pros and cons.
Traditional Bridges: The most common type, a traditional bridge comprises one or more fake teeth (pontics) held in place by dental crowns (abutments). The dentist cements the crowns onto the teeth adjacent to your missing tooth.
Cantilever Bridges: These bridges are similar to traditional bridges, but the fake tooth is supported only on one side, rather than on both sides. So, if there’s only one natural tooth next to the gap, a bridge can still be secured.
Maryland Bridges: Also known as a resin-bonded bridge, a Maryland bridge is primarily used for the front teeth. It is a conservative alternative to traditional bridges, using a porcelain or metal framework to hold the pontic, which is bonded onto the backs of the adjacent teeth.
Implant-Supported Bridges: These bridges are supported by implants rather than crowns or frameworks. Typically, one implant is surgically placed for every missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in position. Implant-supported bridges are considered the strongest and most stable system.
The Procedure of Dental Bridges
The procedure for getting dental bridges typically involves multiple visits to the dentist, but the basic steps remain constant.
During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. The preparation involves re-contouring these teeth by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Impressions of the teeth are then taken, serving as a model from which the bridge, crowns, and pontic will be made by a dental lab. Your dentist will make a temporary bridge to wear to protect exposed teeth and gums while the bridge is being made.
During the following visits, the temporary bridge will be removed, and the new permanent bridge will be checked and adjusted to achieve a proper fit. More than one visit may be necessary to check and adjust the fit.
Once the dental bridge is cemented into position, it allows you to eat more comfortably, speak more clearly, and above all, smile confidently. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are vital to ensure the longevity of your dental bridge.
In conclusion, dental bridges are a highly successful, time-tested treatment, and a dependable solution to the problem of missing teeth. They play an essential role in preventing further oral issues, while simultaneously improving the aesthetic appearance of a smile.