A dental bridge is a custom made set of replacement teeth that fill the location where one or more teeth are missing. The bridge reestablishes your bite and helps preserve the natural shape of your face.
Your personal dentist will guide you on which type of dental bridge is best for you based on your specific needs.
Why You Need a Dental Bridge
Missing teeth are a serious oral health matter. Teeth were designed to work together. When you lose a tooth or teeth, the neighboring teeth many times drift into the empty pocket. The teeth in your opposite jaw may also shift up or down into this empty space. This can alter your bite and put more stress on your teeth and jaw joints, perhaps prompting pain and damage. Teeth that have tilted or drifted are much harder to keep clean. This places those teeth at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
When a tooth is missing, the jaw bone tends to shrink. If this happens, it might change how the jaw bone supports the lips and cheeks. This can prematurely make your face look older than it is.
How a Fixed Bridge is Placed
A fixed bridge refers to a dentist using existing natural teeth on either side of the missing teeth to help hold your bridge in place. Setting a bridge takes several dental visits typically.
- During your initial visit, the dentist prepares the teeth on both sides of the empty space. The dental bridge is designed to attach to those teeth.
- The dentist then creates an impression or image of your teeth and the gap. That information is collected and sent to a dental laboratory where lab techs follow your dentist’s instructions and produce the bridge.
- Your dentist will install a temporary dental bridge to protect your adapted teeth while you are anticipating the permanent dental bridge.
- Once your permanent bridge is complete, your dentist will fit, adjust, and cement the dental bridge to your outfitted teeth. This particular type of bridge is referred to as permanent and cannot be removed from your mouth without the help of a dentist.
Implant-supported Dental Bridge
Dental implants are used to support a bridge. Implants are titanium metal posts that are surgically screwed into the jaw. Your jaw bone and the implant will fuse together and secure the implant in place.
- A key advantage of implants is that they don’t require support from the neighboring teeth.
- Candidates for implants should be in excellent general health and have adequate bone to support an implant. For some patients, implants can preserve the jaw where teeth are missing.
- Implants can be installed in one day or may require multiple visits to your dentist, depending on your dentist’s treatment plan.
What Material is Used in a Dental Bridge?
Generally, dental bridges are made from titanium metal, ceramics, or even a combination of the two materials. Your dentist will chat with you regarding the best material for you and your mouth.
Caring for Your Bridge
A bridge is likely to fail if the support teeth or the jaw bone is damaged by dental disease. Follow these tips for good oral health:
- Brush and floss your teeth thrice a day. Brushing and cleaning between all of your teeth help to remove plaque. This is a sticky form of bacteria, always forming on your teeth.
- Always brush between your teeth and under the dental bridge. There are many different types of flossers, water picks, or tiny brushes available. Your dentist will help you decide which is best for your bridge.
- Visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups, exams, and professional teeth cleaning.
- Routinely eat a healthy diet.
- Buy oral-care products that display the ADA Seal of Acceptance. These products have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective in keeping your mouth healthy.