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What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge, which is a non-removable appliance, is an excellent treatment for missing teeth. It is designed to “bridge” the gap between a missing tooth or a pair of teeth.
A dental bridge is composed of two parts — crowns on the anchor teeth on the sides of the gap and the false tooth or teeth in between. Crowns are placed on the two anchor teeth, also known as abutment teeth. These will be the anchor points for the bridge. The false teeth, also known as pontics, can be made from different materials: gold, alloys, porcelain, or a mixture of these. All porcelain fixed bridges have grown more popular because they look more natural than other dental restorations and is Dr. Peters’ first option. In addition to the natural abutment teeth, dental bridges can be supported by implants.
Why should I get a dental bridge?
There are several reasons why you might need a fixed bridge:
- To fill the space left by a missing tooth or teeth
- To maintain facial shape (missing teeth can lead to bone loss in the jaw)
- To prevent existing teeth from drifting out of their natural position to compensate for a missing tooth or teeth
- To restore or improve the smile
- To restore the ability to chew and speak properly
- To replace a removable partial denture with permanent teeth.
What are the different types of porcelain bridges?
This is the most common bridge and is described on this page. It involves two crowns on each side of the gap and the artificial tooth or teeth in between them.
When there are healthy teeth on just one side of the missing teeth, a cantilever bridge is used. Two crowns are placed on the one side and the bridge, in this case, is more akin to a balcony.
These bridges are typically used on the front teeth. Maryland bridges don’t use crowns as anchors. Instead, bands are cemented to the back surfaces of the supporting teeth.
What is the difference between a porcelain bridge and a dental implant?
Bridges and implants are the two methods for replacing a missing tooth or maybe a couple teeth, but they are totally different.
Dental implants are far and away the preferred solution for replacing a missing tooth or two. An implant is named for its titanium base, the implant, that is screwed down into the hole in the jawbone formerly occupied by the natural tooth root. Once the implant is placed down into the jaw, the gum tissue above it is closed with a stitch and the jawbone is given time to grow around the implant and make it a part of the jaw. This is called osseointegration, and it takes from 3-6 months. Once the jawbone has become one with the implant, Dr. Peters attaches a post to the implant base, and the artificial porcelain tooth is attached to the post. Now the dental implant feels and functions exactly like a natural tooth.
Bridges are described above. Instead of using the implant base to anchor a bridge, bridges are anchored by the crowns on the healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth. The artificial teeth between the crowns sit atop the gums, unlike an implant whose base is down in the jawbone.
Another difference is lifespan. Most dental implants will last the remainder of the patient’s life. Bridges usually last up to 15 years but will then usually need to be replaced due to wear and tear.
What can I expect from getting a fixed bridge?
The placement of a fixed bridge generally requires two dental visits. During the procedure, the teeth will be numbed while both anchoring teeth are prepared for the crowns by the removal of a portion of their enamel. Dr. Peters will then take impressions of your teeth to send to the dental lab to fabricate your bridge. While waiting for the final dental bridge, a temporary bridge will be placed for you to use until your bridge is ready (usually two weeks).
During your second visit, Dr. Peters will carefully assess the fit of your permanent bridge. Depending on your situation, the bridge may be cemented into place with temporary cement, to allow your teeth to become accustomed to it before making it permanent. Then, once everything looks good, it will be permanently cemented into place.
What is the recovery after a porcelain bridge treatment?
There really isn’t any recovery after either of your two visits in the process of getting your fixed porcelain bridge. During the first appointment, Dr. Peters simply shaves off some of the two abutment teeth to make room for the crowns that will anchor the bridge. We numb your teeth during this procedure, so you don’t feel anything. Afterward, there can be some mild soreness, but this is easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication. It only lasts a day or so.
Does a dental bridge require special care?
Cleaning the two crowns and the artificial porcelain teeth in between doesn’t require any special care, just normal brushing and flossing on the outside of the two crowns (and, of course, the rest of your teeth). It is important to also clean under the bridge. This can be done with a floss threader, which can be threaded under the bridge. You can also use an interdental brush, which can slide under the bridge to remove food particles and plaque. An oral irrigator, such as the Waterpik, can be used, as well. The goal of any of these methods is to remove any food debris, plaque, and bacteria on the gums under your bridge.
Will it be difficult to eat with a porcelain bridge?
Once in place, you won’t feel your bridge. It will become a normal part of your mouth. You won’t have to change the way you eat or chew. It will be a good idea to avoid certain really hard or really chewy foods (at least on the side with your bridge), but this is only so that you don’t damage your bridge.
How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?
Dental bridges have a varying lifespan from five to 15 years, but they can last longer. The health of the abutment teeth is usually the determinant. With good home hygiene, bridges can last a long time. As mentioned above, it’s important to clean under you bridge to keep your gums healthy.
Dr. Peters will provide you with additional instructions at the end of the procedure. You can extend the lifespan of your bridge through good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“Today was my first visit with Dr. Peters. I had a delightful visit. Dr. Peters and his staff are awesome. The technology he uses is unbelievable. I’ve defintely found the perfect dentist…thank you Dr. Peters and staff.”
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You can also read more about our other services on Peters Dental Associates’ blog!