Dental bridge is a common solution to replace a missing tooth. Read more about how it can help you and how it is made.
Do you have missing teeth? You are not alone. American Dental Association/ ADA says every 20 to 64 years old American, has at least three teeth missing on an average. The good news is, your dentist can replace your missing teeth with the help of a bridge.
As the name suggests a dental bridge bridges the gap between two teeth with artificial teeth. Bridge is also known as a fixed partial denture. Unlike removable partial dentures, a bridge is a permanent partial denture which is attached to the adjacent teeth.
The adjacent teeth act as anchors and are known as abutments. The artificial teeth, which are replacing the lost ones are known as pontics. A bridge can be made of porcelain or gold or alloys or can even be a combination of different materials.
Bridge helps you:
Speak well: Teeth have an important role to play in your speech. Your tongue and teeth also decide how you sound. Have you noticed how an edentulous/ teeth less person speaks?
Look good: Your teeth and jaw bones support your cheeks. Missing teeth also makes sure there is more bone loss. Thus, they change the way your face looks.
Eat what you like: Missing teeth put a lot of restriction on your diet. You can overcome this with a bridge.
Chew well: Due to missing teeth, chewing forces are not equally distributed. You may be chewing only one side when your posterior teeth on the other side are missing. This gradually leads to pain on the functioning side.
Prevent further bone loss: If you don’t replace your missing teeth in a couple of months, from the time of tooth removal, bone loss exceeds. When there are multiple teeth missing, over a period of time, there may be a huge bone loss (alveolar bone loss) to the extent that it may not allow you to replace other missing teeth as well! This is why some senior citizens cannot have complete dentures. They want to replace teeth after they lose all their teeth, but alveolar bone loss by then makes sure dentures don’t fit well.
Prevent the other teeth from drifting: When a tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth begin to move in that space gradually. Opposing teeth also start shifting. These processes disturb the alignment of teeth. Teeth alignment facilitates chewing and other functions such as speech. When the alignment is disturbed, all the functions get disturbed. The disturbed alignment may also cause pain when you chew food and may need further tooth removal!
Feel good: When your teeth are missing, you may want to hold your joy. You may not want to laugh or even smile when your front teeth are missing.
How are bridges made?
To begin with, your dentist assesses the health of the adjacent teeth and surrounding dental tissues. If they are appropriate, your dentist trims the adjacent teeth so that they can hold the bridge. This process is known as tooth preparation.
Then your dentist takes an impression of your teeth and the surrounding areas.
Then you and your doctor, select the shade of the teeth for making the bridge. Your dental surgeon sends these to the lab and gives you the next appointment.
Meanwhile, your doctor will give you a temporary bridge to wear till the permanent bridge is in place.
In the next appointment, your dental surgeon makes necessary adjustments and replaces the missing teeth by cementing the bridge. There may be a few appointments in between, to ensure the bridge is fitting well.
How long does a bridge last?
A bridge lasts for 7 to 10 years, may last longer if you maintain it well.
4 Post-bridge instructions:
Till you are comfortable with the bridge, eat soft foods in small bites.
Avoid eating anything that is too hard or sticky from that side. Otherwise, it may dislodge the bridge.
Maintain your oral hygiene. Brush twice daily and floss every day. Meet your dentist at least every six months for a professional cleaning of teeth.
Adopt a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibre. Avoid meat and sweets. Make sure you rinse your mouth thoroughly each time after you have food, especially sweets/ chocolates.
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