In addition to impacting your self-confidence, missing teeth can cause a multitude of problems, from trouble speaking normally to difficulty chewing and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the world of modern cosmetic dentistry has several excellent options for replacing lost teeth.
One of the most simple and time-tested methods is the dental bridge. The skilled dental professionals at Smile Dental Group in East Lancaster, CA want to educate you about the benefits of dental bridges for restoring a healthy, confident smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a type of prosthesis (replacement part) that occupies the gap left by a missing tooth and is supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge) while the healthy neighboring teeth that support the pontic on either side are called abutments. The completed restoration stretches over the gap in your teeth just like a bridge crossing over a canyon.
The teeth that will form the abutment must undergo special preparation to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” This is done with exactly the same process as if the teeth required crowns due to extensive tooth decay or damage.
First, their enamel is removed, chiseled away to create enough space for the crown to fit overtop and completely cover them without feeling or appearing overly large in your mouth. The crowns of the abutment teeth anchor the false tooth (pontic) in between them while the pontic is really just another crown but without a live tooth hidden underneath.
Building a Bridge
As previously explained, if you are missing a single tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between to replace the missing tooth (the pont). This configuration is known as a three-unit bridge.
If more than one tooth is missing, more crowns and also more abutment teeth will be needed to create the bridge. Your Smile Dental Group dentist must take several variables into account in this calculation: the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the roots of the neighboring teeth that are being used as abutments, and also from where in the mouth the teeth are missing.
Therefore, if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary to support the bridge, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Creating a dental bridge requires an understanding of engineering as well as of gums and bones.
What to Expect
Completing bridgework usually takes two visits to Smile Dental Group’s East Lancaster offices. At the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered to numb your mouth and the enamel of your abutment teeth will be prepared as described above. Your Smile Dental Group dentist will take molds of your prepped teeth to create three-dimensional models of your teeth, which will be used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office.
Once your permanent bridge has been crafted, it will be permanently placed place during the second visit. It may take some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but before you know it you will probably forget that it is there except when you need to floss.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious care as your other teeth including brushing twice daily and flossing every day to reduce the build-up of dental plaque. Flossing will require an extra step now as you will need to thread the floss under the bridge to remove hidden plaque which can damage the teeth under the abutment. It is crucial to schedule regular cleanings with your Smile Dental Group dentist as a bridge can last for a long time with proper care.
Dental Bridges in East Lancaster, CA
If you are in the East Lancaster, CA area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (661) 463-6530 or schedule online with a Smile Dental Group dentist today.