What is the Dental Bridge Procedure?

Whether you have suffered tooth loss due to aging or trauma, a gap in your smile can take its toll on your confidence and your health.  Missing teeth can lead to bone loss, gum disease, tooth decay, and jaw pain. So, you may think you can go without replacing that missing tooth farther back in your mouth more easily than you could if you were missing one of your front teeth, but both teeth are equally important to your dental health.

No matter the cause of your missing tooth, you have a number of options to replace the tooth and restore your mouth to a healthy state.  One of your options is a dental bridge which allows the dentist to use a prosthetic to replace the missing tooth and attach the prosthetic to the teeth on either side. The teeth on either side are covered with crowns, or caps, and the crowns are cemented into place permanently. In some cases, a bridge can be used to fill a wider gap of more than one missing teeth.

Choosing the Right Type

Depending on a number of factors, you and the dentist should talk about the three types of bridges available: traditional, cantilever, or Maryland.  Traditional bridges are connected on each side of the replacement tooth to crowns.  Cantilever bridges are connected on one side of the replacement tooth to a crown.  Maryland bridges are replacement teeth bonded to existing teeth on each side.  The location of the missing tooth will help determine your best option as well as the health of the gums and teeth on either side of the missing tooth.

Desensitizing and Reshaping

After you and the dentist determine the best kind of bridge to repair your missing tooth, you can plan on more than one visit to the office from the beginning of the procedure until the end.  To start, the dentist will need to prepare the teeth on either side the bridge for crowns.  The dentist will reshape your teeth by filing them down or filling them in to allow the crown to securely fit and remain in place.

Fitting a Substitute

Next the dentist will make an impression for the missing tooth as well as the surrounding teeth for the custom fit crowns. The dentist will send the impressions off to a dental lab where the crowns and replacement teeth will be fabricated.  The bridge will be designed to match your natural tooth color, shape, and size to perfectly fit your mouth and your bite to prevent any further issues.  After a few weeks, the dental lab will send the bridge back to the dentist’s office for the dentist to permanently cement the bridge into place at your next appointment.  Once it is in place, the dentist may need to make minor adjustments to ensure the best fit for you.

Preserving the Bridge

If you take care to use the new flossing technique the dentist showed you for your bridge, brush twice daily and keep your twice-yearly dental cleanings, the bridge should last you more than 10 years.  Depending on the material and placement of your bridge, you may need to take care not to eat overly crunchy or hard foods to prevent possible damage.

More on Dental Bridges : What is a Dental Bridge?

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