If you have lost a tooth, then you are in good company. Tooth loss is a very common problem that affects adult Americans, with 178 million of us missing at least one of our permanent teeth from our mouths. However, just because tooth loss is a common occurrence does not mean that you should disregard it.
Losing a tooth can lead to a long list of complications. Not only can it cause you to look older and more haggard than you are, but you can also find it difficult to bite and chew without pain, but talking can also be harder, and you may even start to lose your remaining teeth as they drift into the vacated space. We here at Mark A. Coussens, DMD Family & Cosmetic Dentistry recommend dental bridges to our patients who have lost a tooth, giving them an attractive and lasting restoration that can improve both their appearance and their quality of life.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are a type of dental restoration that can replace a missing tooth by “bridging” space. Unlike a partial denture, these are a permanent addition to your mouth and cannot be removed for cleaning. Instead, you will brush them like you would your normal tooth and floss around it using a special flossing threader.
Dental bridges typically consist of a pontic, which is a prosthetic tooth, which is typically supported by your surrounding teeth. The most common type of dental bridge is called a traditional bridge. This type of bridge consists of the pontic and two crowns, one on either side of the pontic. This works best for patients who have two natural teeth on either side of the gap.
If a patient does not have a tooth on either side of the gap, then we may advise a cantilever bridge. This only uses on the crown and attaches to just one tooth. These are not as common as traditional bridges and may lead to stress on the supporting tooth. Another type of bridge that you may encounter is a Maryland bridge. Instead of using crowns over your natural tooth, the pontic is instead supported by two “wings” that are affixed to the back of your natural teeth to hold it in place.
Finally, if you are missing more than one tooth and do not have surrounding teeth to support it, you may need an implant-supported bridge. This requires the surgical placement of dental implants to support the pontic.
How a Bridge is Placed
A dental bridge is typically placed in two appointments. During your first appointment, we will take impressions of your mouth. That will go to our laboratory to help create your permanent bridge. We will also prepare your surrounding teeth to help fit them for the dental crown, which will help keep the dental bridge sturdy. While we wait for your permanent bridge, we will fit you with a temporary one.
Once your bridge comes back to us from the lab, we will check the fit of it carefully. Some patients require several appointments to get a good fit. If we are satisfied with the appearance and the fit of the bridge, however, we will secure it in place with dental cement.
If you would like to learn more about dental bridges, or you are ready to set up an appointment with us here at Mark A. Coussens, DMD Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, please give us a call today at (503) 567-4121!