It’s estimated that around 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. As we age, missing teeth become more common, with nearly 30% of adults between the ages of 65-74 having no remaining natural teeth. The gaps left behind by missing teeth can cause a multitude of oral health problems, and one of the most common remedies is a dental bridge.
Here, you can find out everything you need to know about dental bridges, including what they are, how they work, and how to schedule an appointment with Muscaro and Martini Dentistry.
What is a dental bridge, and who are they for?
Dental bridges fill the gaps in your mouth caused by one or more missing teeth. A bridge is simply a custom-made replacement tooth to fill these spaces.
The bridge structure anchors an artificial tooth to either the surrounding abutment teeth or to metal implants in the jawbone. The false tooth — known as a pontic — can consist of a range of materials. Pontic designs can include porcelain, gold, alloys, or a combination of these materials, depending on your requirements.
A dental bridge will permanently restore your bite, improve your smile’s cosmetic appearance, and help maintain the natural shape of your face.
The exact type and method that’s right for you will depend on your overall oral health and the condition of your teeth. Your cosmetic dentist at Muscaro and Martini Dentistry can recommend the right course of action for you.
Why It’s Important to Replace Missing Teeth
Many people think that replacing missing teeth is only done for cosmetic reasons, but those gaps in your smile can significantly impact your overall dental health.
Your teeth rely on each other to stay in the correct position in your mouth. When one goes missing, other teeth may begin to shift. Shifting or misaligned teeth can put you at an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease because it’s harder to clean crooked or angled teeth. Further, the movement of your teeth can lead to a misaligned bite, putting stress on your jaw joints and teeth.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges have numerous benefits, including:
- Eliminate a gap and restore your smile
- Helping to maintain your facial shape and structure
- Helping you speak and chew properly
- The ability to redistribute the force of your bite properly, preventing strain on jaw joints
- Keeping your remaining natural teeth in position
Dental bridges are also more cost-effective than other tooth replacement options, like dental implants.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges can either attach to an existing tooth or get support from implants. Here we take a look at the different types in more detail.
A fixed bridge uses the adjacent teeth or tooth to support the bridge and keep it fixed in place. They are very stable, and only a dentist can remove them once cemented in place.
The gap gets filled with an artificial tooth. Depending on the size and location of the missing tooth, one or more crowns will bond the pontic to the teeth on either side.
Fixed bridges may require several visits to your dentist, as some preparation work is usually necessary. During the process, your dentist will:
- Prep the teeth that will support the bridge
- Make an impression of your teeth
- Put in a temporary bridge to keep your prepared teeth intact
- Install the permanent appliance, made from the previous impression
Rather than using the surrounding teeth for support, implant-supported bridges use metal posts implanted into your jawbone to keep them attached. The posts serve as artificial versions of the roots of natural teeth.
The implant-supported bridge has a tooth-colored base with replacement teeth mounted on top attached to the metal implants. One advantage of this kind of bridge is that it doesn’t require support from other teeth.
For an implant-supported bridge, you must undergo surgery for the post to be placed in the jawbone. The number of dental visits you’ll need for an implant-supported bridge will depend on the availability of bone in the jaw to hold the implant posts and your overall treatment plan.
How to Prolong the Life of Your Dental Bridge
Caring for your dental bridge properly will ensure greater longevity. While you don’t need to treat your dental bridge differently from your other teeth, poor oral health can cause the bridge to become loose over time. Therefore, you should care for your dental bridge just as you would natural teeth.
Follow the below tips for excellent oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day. You may wish to use traditional floss or a water flosser to remove plaque in hard-to-reach places.
- Eat a healthy diet, and avoid excess sugar from carbonated drinks.
- Purchase dental products that the American Dental Association (ADA) has approved. These products have gone through testing and are scientifically proven to be beneficial to your oral health.
- Visit the dentist once every six months for a professional cleaning. While you’re there, they can also ensure there are no further problems with your teeth that could affect the positioning and security of your bridge.
Schedule an Appointment with a Cosmetic Dentist in Tampa, FL
If you find yourself with one or more teeth missing, a dental bridge could be the right option for you. When you’ve lost a tooth due to injury, root canal, or age, it’s vital to seek treatment to reduce the potential for damage.
If you have further questions regarding dental bridges or believe this treatment may be right for you, our team of cosmetic dentistry experts can help. Take the first step to restore your smile today by scheduling an appointment with Muscaro and Martini Dentistry in South Tampa, Florida.