SERVING MESA, PHOENIX, Gilbert, TEMPE AND SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
Missing teeth can create serious problems for the appearance and functionality of your smile. They can result in a change in your bite, a shifting of your remaining teeth to fill in the gap with increased wear and possible TMJ pain, an increased risk of periodontal disease, and an increased risk of bone loss. In order to avoid these serious issues, dental bridges can address tooth loss as soon as possible.
What are Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are an excellent option to replace missing teeth. They consist of a false tooth that is fused between two dental crowns to fill the space left by a missing tooth.
The dental crowns will be attached to your neighboring teeth to provide stability for the restoration and hold your false tooth in place. They look and function just like your natural teeth and only require a few modifications to the patient’s flossing technique.
Dental bridges are usually made of metal, resin, ceramic or porcelain, and/or porcelain fused to metal. At Drs of Smiles, we generally prefer to use porcelain fused to metal for our bridges, as the strength of the underlying metal provides longevity, while the porcelain used for the crowns and artificial tooth or teeth is incredibly strong, resistant to staining, and provides a remarkable similarity to natural tooth enamel in its slight translucence and the way it absorbs and reflects light.
What are the different types of dental bridges?
There are three types of permanent bridges: traditional, cantilever, and Maryland. Bridges are constructed as a single piece consisting of the crowns, artificial tooth/teeth, and metal structure beneath. They are glued into place permanently.
- Traditional bridges — These consist of crowns on the healthy teeth on each side of the gap (these are also called the abutment teeth). Between the crowns is an artificial tooth or teeth (called pontics) that replace the missing teeth.
- Maryland bridges — These bridges are typically used on the front teeth. Maryland bridges don’t use crowns as anchors. Instead bands are cemented to the back surfaces of the supporting teeth.
- Cantilever bridges — When there are healthy teeth on just one side of the missing teeth, a cantilever bridge is used. Two crowns are placed on the one side and the bridge in this case is more akin to a balcony. These bridges are not used frequently because they are not as strong. They cannot be used on the back molars where the bite forces are strong. A dental implant is a better solution either to replace the missing single tooth, or as an anchor for a traditional bridge if there are a couple of missing teeth.
Am I a Candidate for a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is an excellent option for patients who lack sufficient bone structure to support a dental implant or who prefer a more stable restoration than dentures. It is also ideal for patients who prefer a significantly less invasive procedure than what is required when placing dental implants. Dental implants also require a waiting time of several months before crowns can be attached in most cases.
However, dental bridges are not appropriate in all situations. Each bridge should only be used to replace gaps of four or fewer missing teeth although several bridges can be present in the same mouth. In most cases, you must also have healthy teeth on either side of the gap since they must support the placement of the dental crowns that attach the ends of the bridge.
Why do I need a dental bridge?
The obvious answer is that no one wants to have a smile with a hole in it. The cosmetic aspects of a missing tooth can make a person avoid smiling. A missing tooth can also create a whistling sound when you speak.
Function is more important. When a tooth or a couple teeth are extracted or knocked out, sometimes a patient opts to leave the gap, either to save money or to avoid the anxiety of dental procedures. While this can seem innocuous, particularly if the missing teeth are back in the molars, this is a bad move for the person’s dental future.
Teeth stay in place due to pressure placed upon them by the teeth on each side. When a tooth goes missing, the teeth on each side slide over into the gap. Think of it this way. You’re at a crowded high school football game. When a person gets up to get a hot dog, the people on both sides of the gap usually slide over into it. That’s what your teeth do when a missing tooth isn’t replaced. As the teeth move, they can also shift upward or downward, or they can tip. Now, your bite is affected.
Here are the reasons for having a bridge replace a tooth or teeth:
- To complete your smile
- To prevent adjacent teeth from moving
- To restore chewing and biting capability
- To distribute the bite forces to not overload other teeth
- To restore your speaking diction
- To maintain the shape of your face
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges can serve many important functions, including:
- Restore a beautiful smile
- Maintain the shape of your face
- Prevent your remaining teeth from shifting
- Restore your ability to speak and chew properly
- Distribute the forces in your bite correctly
Your Dental Bridge Procedure
Your dental bridge procedure can be completed in two visits to our Mesa dental office. At your first visit, Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will prepare your adjacent teeth to accommodate the dental crowns which will be placed over them. Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will then take impressions of your teeth which will be sent to the lab for use in the creation of your bridge with attachment crowns. You will be fit with a temporary dental bridge to protect your teeth and gums while the permanent one is constructed.
When your permanent restorations have been completed, you will return to our office to have them placed on your teeth. Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will attach the permanent dental bridge and attachment crowns, and make any necessary adjustments at this time.
It is important to care for your dental bridge by brushing and flossing regularly. This will help maintain your exceptional results for years to come.
How long is the procedure for receiving a dental bridge?
Getting a bridge from Drs of Smiles takes two appointments. During the first appointment, your abutment teeth are shaved down to make room for the crowns, and we take impressions from which the dental lab will create your bridge. We also place a temporary bridge to use while your final bridge is fabricated.
When your bridge is finished, you come in for the second appointment. We test the fit, make any adjustments, and cement the crowns permanently onto your teeth. The second appointment usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes or so.
How do I care for my bridge?
The lifespan of your bridge will likely depend on the health of the underlying natural teeth providing the abutments. If you maintain excellent brushing and care for the gums surrounding those teeth, your bridge should last up to 20 years. For the bridge itself, you’ll need to be sure to clean between your teeth and under the bridge. To do so, you’ll need to use a floss threader, picks, or those little dental brushes. It’s important to do this to prevent food buildup on the gums under the bridge.