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Dental Bridges for Missing Teeth

close-photo-young man missing tooth

A gap in your teeth can affect more than just your appearance—it can lead to shifting teeth and misalignment. That’s where dental bridges step in, not only filling the space but also preserving the natural order of your smile.

What are Dental Bridges?

When it comes to dental health, understanding the role and function of dental bridges is crucial. Dental bridges are a time-tested solution for replacing one or more missing teeth. They essentially bridge the gap created by tooth loss. Restorative dentistry has made significant strides, and among the options available, dental bridges stand out for their effectiveness in both aesthetic appeal and functional restoration.

The construction of a dental bridge involves creating a crown for the teeth on either side of the gap – these are called abutment teeth – and a replacement tooth or teeth, which are called pontics. The materials typically used for these prosthetics are gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these. Porcelain is often favoured for its ability to blend with the natural colour of your teeth, creating a seamless look.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

Restoring Functionality

Missing teeth don’t just affect one’s smile; they also have a pronounced impact on everyday activities. With dental bridges, some patients notice an unmistakable improvement in essential functions like speaking and eating. 

What’s more, by filling the gaps, a bridge can prevent other serious oral health issues. When teeth shift to occupy an empty space, it can lead to misalignment, creating additional problems and potentially expensive treatments down the line. This preventative aspect of dental bridges is key to maintaining my long-term dental health. Moreover, when a bridge is supported by dental implants, it provides additional stability, further reinforcing these benefits. 

Improving Aesthetics

The natural-looking appearance of dental bridges stems from them being meticulously designed to match the existing teeth in terms of shape, colour, and alignment. This not only closes gaps but also ensures the smile looks cohesive. 

Types of Dental Bridges

When considering dental bridges, it’s vital to understand the various options available. Each type has its unique benefits, and the choice ultimately hinges on the specific needs of the patient’s mouth and the condition of surrounding teeth. 

Traditional Fixed Bridges are the most prevalent type and considered the standard for replacing one or more missing teeth. A traditional bridge consists of:

  • A false tooth or teeth (also known as pontics)
  • Dental crowns cemented onto the adjacent teeth that act as anchors (abutments)

This type is reliable and commonly suited for areas of the mouth that undergo significant stress, such as the molars. Cantilever Bridges come into play when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. While similar to traditional bridges, they require only one crowned abutment tooth. It’s essential to note, however, that cantilever bridges are not as commonly recommended due to their susceptibility to forces that might cause complications.

Maryland Bridges offer a more conservative alternative. Instead of crowns on adjacent teeth, they use a framework of either porcelain or metal that is bonded onto the backs of the adjacent teeth. These are mainly used for front teeth due to their less invasive nature and aesthetic appeal.

Finally, Implant-Supported Bridges are the pinnacle of durability and function. These bridges involve:

  • Placing an implant for each missing tooth
  • Anchoring the bridge securely to the implants without relying on natural teeth for support

close view dentist showing-porcelain crowns patientCaring for Dental Bridges

Once the new bridge is in place, the journey to maintain that renewed smile is an ongoing process. Staying on top of your oral care routine will keep your bridge looking its best and functioning well for as long as possible.

Oral Hygiene Practices

Taking care of your dental bridge starts with daily oral hygiene practices that are not much different from those for your natural teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing are paramount to prevent plaque build-up, which can lead to gum disease and potential damage to my bridge. While difficult, flossing under the bridge is essential; use a floss threader or a water flosser to access those tricky spaces. Make an effort to choose fluoride toothpaste and an antiseptic mouthwash to fortify the enamel of the abutment teeth and protect against decay.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Regular dental check-ups are not negotiable. They play a critical role in extending the life of your dental bridge. During these visits, your dentist can detect any issues early, before they become bigger problems. Professional cleanings help safeguard your bridge against wear and enhance its longevity.

Dietary Considerations

Diet plays a crucial part, as well. Be mindful of consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support overall dental health. Sticky or excessively hard foods can threaten the stability of the bridge, so steer clear of them whenever possible. Additionally, aim to avoid habits that might risk damaging the bridge, such as using teeth to open packages or chewing ice.

Potential Risks and Complications

When considering dental bridges as a solution for missing teeth, it’s important to be aware not only of their benefits but also of any potential risks and complications that may accompany the procedure. While dental bridges are generally safe, any dental intervention comes with a potential for issues that should be discussed with a qualified dental professional.

One such concern is the possibility of damage to the abutment teeth. These are the teeth that support the bridge and they can be affected by decay or strain which may weaken over time. 

Another point is the risk of the bridge becoming loose. This can happen if the cement used to hold the bridge in place fails, or if the supporting teeth suffer from dental issues. Some studies have shown that a dental bridge, on average, will last approximately 5-15 years, though with diligent care, they can last longer.

In addition to these concerns, there’s the potential for an ill-fitting bridge to result in discomfort or an improper bite. This could necessitate further dental work, adjustments, or even replacement of the bridge. 

Without proper fitting, a bridge can also lead to further gum disease or tooth decay in hard-to-clean areas. It’s essential to follow thorough oral hygiene practices regularly in order to minimize this.

selective focus happy woman-looking-mirror handsome dentistHave You Considered Dental Bridges?

Filling the gap in your smile with a dental bridge is a journey worth taking, for both aesthetic and functional purposes. Visit the Maple Ridge Smiles Dental team to find out which option is the best for your smile. Remember to keep up with regular check-ups and care for your bridge as you would your natural teeth.

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