All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing, and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss does not necessarily have to occur as you age. But if you do lose teeth, they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.
Dental Bridge Options
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges) or they can be removable (removable bridge).
Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it is difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.
What exactly is a bridge or fixed partial denture?
A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device that fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts.
Why do I need a bridge?
Oral function and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your cheeks to sink in and your face to look older.
Oral health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unnatural and excessive stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially negative consequences.
Increased risk of additional tooth loss has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge. Missing teeth can cause speech impediments as well as negatively impact our ability to chew effectively.
How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment, Drs. Bowne and Holden will prepare the teeth on either side of the missing tooth by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin.
Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct fit and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to our lab where the bridge will be constructed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (artificial tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. All dental materials that Drs. Bowne and Holden use in fabricating restorations meet strict guidelines for biocompatibility testing.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support. This will be reviewed with you by Drs. Bowne and Holden.