Missing teeth can dramatically affect the appearance of your smile. It may be hard to hide a gap where a tooth used to be. Gaps can accelerate the natural shifting of existing teeth. You may notice formerly straight are tipped and appear crowded, so though a missing back tooth may be “out of sight,” it can affect the appearance of highly visible front teeth.
Cosmetic considerations don’t take into account functional complications that arise from shifting and a significant threat to your health and quality of life: bone loss. To shifting, as teeth become crowded, you may be unable to brush or floss well. Poor oral hygiene can result in gum disease or tooth decay and eventually more tooth loss.
When you lose your teeth, you also lose bone. The effects of tooth loss happen rapidly. Within the first year of tooth loss, bone width decreases by 25 percent. Bone loss changes your face shape and causes tissues to sag as your skin is not properly supported, effects which can make you appear older than your years.
Since the appearance and health of your teeth and mouth go hand-in-hand, as the look of your teeth and smile deteriorates so goes function. The longer you live with missing teeth, the more potential complications arise with tooth replacement options such as dental implants. If bone loss is such that existing hard tissues would not provide a foundation sufficient enough for the implant-supported tooth, bone may be grafted to build up the jaw and increase the odds of the implant being successful.
Bridges are a tooth replacement option that can work for many patients. Unlike the dental implant-supported tooth, a bridge is not surgically placed in the jaw so there is no need to build up the structure that may have been lost as the result of bone resorption. While the type of bridge can vary depending on how much (if any) teeth exist on either side of the tooth designed to fill your gap, generally the bridge consists of 3 units:
- The new tooth or pontic
- The tooth to the right of the pontic
- The tooth to the left of the pontic
The adjacent or abutment teeth are generally crowned. Crowning is advised as these teeth support the pontic. A crown adds strength, kind of like the supportive beams that hold up a bridge you drive over.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so it is said. However, it may be even more valuable than that for cosmetic dentistry patients. Creating a functional, healthy, long lasting dental bridge or other restoration requires dental skills and quality materials. Creating a cosmetically beautiful restoration involves these same elements, along with an artistic flair, which cannot be learned. If the aesthetic outcome of treatment is important to you, it is advisable to view photographic examples of the dentist’s work. On our smile gallery page you will find a collection of “before and after” photos of actual patients from our office.
How dental bridges restore and preserve your smile
Missing teeth can take a toll on your appearance in many ways. Naturally, the most obvious concern is the gap in your smile, particularly if you’ve lost a front tooth. However, there are other problems associated with missing teeth. Over time, the adjacent teeth can shift, tilting toward the gap. In addition to affecting the appearance of straight teeth, it can make oral hygiene more challenging. Crooked or crowded teeth create the ideal environment for plaque and tartar buildup, because it is difficult to clean between them.
Dental bridges protect your smile in many ways:
- Complete your dazzling smile with a natural-looking restoration
- Prevent the shifting of other teeth, keeping your smile healthy and beautifully aligned
- Help distribute chewing pressure more evenly, preventing excess wear on certain teeth
Caring for a dental bridge
Your oral hygiene routine after treatment will not be very different than it was before, but you will need to pay special attention to the area between the pontic (false tooth) and the gum. Bridges are designed so that the tooth sits firmly against the gum tissue, for a natural feel and appearance. Therefore, traditional brushing and flossing techniques cannot remove plaque buildup under the bridge.
Types Of Dental Bridges
Gaps in your smile are unsightly, but that is far from the only problem that they cause. Speaking, chewing, and even performing basic oral hygiene can become more difficult. Even more concerning, the remaining teeth tend to shift in the direction of the gap, which can increase your risk of developing gum disease.
There are several options for replacing missing teeth, with dental bridges being one of the most popular. There are several types of dental bridges:
Traditional. The most common dental bridge design is composed of a false tooth (pontic) and two dental crowns. They are fused together, creating a single unit. The ideal candidate is someone who is missing a single tooth, and has a strong tooth on both sides of the gap. The crowns are fitted over those teeth, holding the replacement tooth securely between them, and literally bridging the gap. On occasion, this design may be varied to include more than two crowns, and more than one replacement tooth. These bridges are most often made of pure porcelain, or porcelain fused to a metal base.
Cantilever. In situations where there is only one tooth adjacent to the gap, a cantilever bridge may be used, but it is not common. It is similar to a traditional bridge in design, but it only uses one crown. Because it has less support, it is not recommended if the tooth is subjected to significant strain. Like traditional bridges they are typically made of porcelain or porcelain fused to metal.
Maryland. In some cases, crowning the teeth adjacent to the gap may not be desirable. A Maryland bridge (resin-bonded bridge) may be an alternative. The replacement tooth has thin “wings,” which are bonded to the backs of the adjacent teeth. A Maryland bridge may be made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or resin with a metal or porcelain framework.
At Trust Dental Care, we offer a wide range of restorative and cosmetic procedures. Dental bridges could be considered both, because replacing a missing tooth is essential to your oral health, as well as the appearance of your smile. Dr. Aparicio Miranda is a talented cosmetic dentist who takes great care in designing each restoration, for a natural and gorgeous result.
A dental bridge is a complete unit, made up of dental crowns and prosthetic teeth fused together. The most common design has a single pontic (false tooth) with a dental crown on each side. The crowns are placed over existing teeth, providing solid support for the restoration. The procedure is convenient and comfortable, very similar to that for a crown, and the entire process is completed in a matter of weeks:
- We begin with an examination and consultation to ensure that a bridge is the best solution for you.
- The teeth on either side of the gap are shaped and prepared, exactly as they would be for dental crowns.
- We will take impressions, which are sent to the laboratory where the bridge is fabricated. A partial denture, temporary bridge, or other provisional appliance may be placed.
- When your new bridge is ready, we will arrange a follow-up appointment.
- The provisional is removed, and the bridge is temporarily placed, so that your dentist can verify the fit, color, and appearance are correct.
- The final step is permanently cementing the two crowns over the prepared teeth.
- Once complete, your teeth will look natural, and feel stable.
- Aftercare is relatively simple. With a bridge, you can eat and drink what you wish. Good oral hygiene is essential, just as it is with untreated teeth. When you brush and floss, you will need to clean under the tooth, which can be accomplished with an implement such as an oral irrigator, a floss threader, or stiff ended dental floss.
If you have any questions, you are encouraged to ask. We are your partners in oral hygiene, and we believe that patient education is one of our most valuable services. Just call us at (844) 848 7878 and arrange a consultation.