During a person’s life a nearly infinite number of events may cause the loss of a tooth. Sports accidents, facial injuries, age, and much more may result in the loss of one or more teeth. While some teeth seem more aesthetically important, each tooth has a function in speaking, chewing, and even food selection. Thankfully, several options exist to easily replace a missing tooth.
The most common of these is a dental bridge. A dental bridge consists of an artificial tooth known as a “pontic” and is attached to the two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. Depending on the location and condition of the bridge area, as well patient preference, a bridge can be permanently attached (known as fixed bridges) or removable.
THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF FIXED BRIDGES:
- A traditional bridge consists of the false tooth, or pontic, centered between two attached porcelain
crowns on either side
- A cantilever is a bridge that is attached to only one tooth on either side. This option may be chosen depending on the location or condition of the gap area
- A resin-bonded, or “Maryland” bridge, consists of false teeth that are fused together with metal bands, and then bonded to the back of adjacent teeth. This bridge option is ideal for missing front teeth
WHY CHOOSE A BRIDGE?
Many people elect to live without replacing a lost tooth, especially if the gap is located to the side or rear of the mouth. However, the challenges created by missing teeth are several. The mouth’s design, much like the rest of your body, ensures that teeth properly support one another, and facilitate speech patterns, eating, prevention of gum disease, and much more. While a missing tooth may seem like an inconvenience, the increased risk of gum disease and gradual poor alignment of remaining teeth are real.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Once the best bridge option for a patient’s mouth is selected, an impression of the area is sent to the lab to manufacture and produce the precision replacement each mouth requires.
Initially, the dentist will prepare the surrounding teeth in advance of the bridge installation which usually takes two appointments to complete. After bridge installation patients may return to the natural feel and function of their teeth.
Caring for a bridge is important. Proper brushing, flossing and checkups will ensure a long life, as the bridge relies on the surrounding teeth for stability.