Dental Bridges - Bridging the Gap
There are many reasons why people lose their teeth. While failing to take proper care of teeth is one of the main reasons, other people lose their teeth due to trauma suffered in accidents. Even if a single tooth is lost, it can be replaced. One of the ways to replace a single missing tooth or a few missing teeth is by Dental Bridges. A Dental Bridge is a fixed replacement for a single missing tooth or a few missing teeth.
The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth
Many people think that only a missing tooth in the front area needs to be replaced as their cosmetic appearance will be hampered. But, one must realize that teeth not only help provide cosmetic enhancements by giving a good smile, they are also important for chewing and grinding the food.
As the back teeth help in chewing and grinding action, the loss of a tooth or a few teeth in that area will hamper the chewing process and digestion of the food gets affected. Also, any tooth or teeth that lie behind the missing tooth will not be effectively used for chewing. This will eventually lead to bone support loss around these unused teeth making them weak faster.
Also, if missing teeth anywhere in the mouth is not replaced, it can cause movements of the other teeth into that area, a process known as drifting, causing excessive bone support loss over a period of time. This can lead to early loss of teeth which otherwise would not be problem if the teeth were to be replaced.
Types of Bridges
Depending on the area in which the tooth or missing teeth are being replaced, many different types of bridges might be constructed. Some of the types that are normally used to replace the teeth include:
- Conventional Fixed Bridges
- Resin Bonded Bridges
- Cantilever Bridge
A dental bridge uses teeth adjoining the space where teeth are missing. These adjoining teeth will support the bridge and hold it in place.
In a conventional fixed bridge, the teeth on either side of the space where teeth are missing are used to construct the bridge. These teeth will be prepared to fit crowns on to them that will be attached to the replacement teeth. This type of bridge can be used both in the front area as well as for missing teeth in the back areas but cannot be used in a situation where there is no teeth on one side of the missing space (as in the replacement of a last molar).
In resin bonded bridges, the preparation of the natural teeth to hold the bridge will be very minimal. These bridges will use a metal band that will hold the replacement teeth and the ends will be bonded with a resin to the natural teeth. This bridge are mainly preferred for use in the front teeth and is generally not used in the back areas as they will not be able to sustain the chewing forces.
Cantilever Bridges use the support of teeth only on side of the missing space. These are also generally constructed in the case of missing front teeth so that it will avoid preparation of a front tooth that is present on one side of the missing space.
Dental Bridge Procedure
In the initial visits, the dentist will assess the missing space for healing. Also, the teeth that will support the bridge will be assessed for strength to know whether or not it will be able to provide adequate support to the bridge to hold it in place.
During the procedure, the teeth that need to be prepared will be anesthetized using a local anesthetic or some form of mild sedation to provide comfort to the patient.
Then the dentist will trim the supporting teeth on all sides so that it will compensate for the thickness of the crown that will be constructed on these teeth. Once the preparation of the teeth is complete, the impression of both the upper and lower teeth is taken and models are prepared.
On these models, the bridge will be fabricated using the appropriate material (gold, porcelain fused to metal or just porcelain). Once the bridge is fabricated, it will be tried on for fit and then fixed onto the supporting teeth using an appropriate cement or resin.
Maintenance of Dental Bridges
Like your natural teeth, the bridge also needs to be brushed and flossed as instructed to you by the dentist. Unless you take care in the maintenance, there is a high chance that the supporting teeth might get affected and you might lose out these teeth.
Also, the bridge might come off at some point of time. In such a case, you will need to visit the dentist once again so that he can cement it back in place.
Another thing to remember is that the bridge too will wear down like your natural teeth. So, you will have to visit the dentist from time to time to check the integrity of the bridge. If it has worn down then you will be advised to replace the bridge. But, usually a dental bridge will last anywhere from 5 to 15 years before it will need to be replaced.
Remember, missing teeth needs to be replaced. Dental bridges are a very convenient method of replacing a missing tooth or teeth. These will not only help you replace your smile, it will help retain your teeth for a long time to come.
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