In addition to negatively impacting your self-esteem, missing teeth can cause a multitude of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the world of dentistry has several excellent methods of tooth replacement.
One of the most simple and reliable methods available is also one of the most long-established: the dental bridge. Dr. James Lassiter of Lassiter Family Dentistry in Kingsland, GA want to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a healthy smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (replacement part) that replaces a missing tooth and is supported by the adjacent healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge), while the healthy adjacent teeth that support it are known as abutments. When completed, this dental prosthesis crosses over the empty spot in your teeth just like a bridge spanning a canyon.
However, the teeth that will serve as the abutment must be specially prepared to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” This process is much the same as if the teeth were being crowned due to tooth decay or damage.
Their outer layer of enamel is removed to allow the crown to fit over and completely cover them while still maintaining a lifelike appearance. Three connected crowns are placed, one one each side of the gap in your smile (the abutments) with a pontic in between. The pontic is another crown but without a tooth living underneath.
Building a Bridge
As previously explained, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge be made of three connected crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This configuration is known as a three-unit bridge.
If multiple teeth are missing, more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to build the bridge. Your dentist calculates this by considering the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and also from where in the mouth the teeth were lost.
Therefore, if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-unit bridge. Creating a bridge requires the dentist to have an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth.
What to Expect
Having a bridge completed usually requires two separate visits to your dentist’s office. At the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared as previously described. Molds will be taken by your dentist of your prepared teeth to create three-dimensional models which will be used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office. You will have to return again for your permanent restoration to be placed.
Once your permanent bridge is ready, it will be permanently affixed at the second visit. You will need some time to adjust to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but will eventually come to accept it as part of your own teeth. You may even forget you have it.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same dutiful care as your other teeth. Dentists recommend brushing twice daily and flossing every day to reduce the build-up of dental plaque. Flossing will be slightly more challenging as you will have to thread the floss under the connected crowns to clean between them. It is even more important for you to attend routine examinations and cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge. A bridge that is properly cared for can last for as long as a decade..
Dental Bridges in Kingsland, GA
If you are in the Kingsland, GA area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (912) 576-4011 or schedule online with Dr. Lassiter today.