Cosmetic dentistry deals with how a patient’s smile looks, and, as Temecula dentist K. Pat Brown, DDS, know nothing ruins a smile more than missing teeth. In fact, it’s not just cosmetic dentists that have an issue with missing teeth. The condition, called “edentulism” has a variety of health-related implications in addition to its obvious aesthetic drawbacks.
Luckily for these patients, dentists have developed many solutions to this problem, one of which is the fixed dental bridge. A restorative and cosmetic technique generally designed to help a patient missing several teeth in a cluster, bridges are a functional and aesthetic solution that any dental patient could explore.
What Are The Benefits And Risks Associated With Dental Bridges?
So, you might be thinking, why should I get a bridge? Or, why should I bother replacing my missing tooth?
The answer is simple — while having your own, naturally grown teeth is obviously the best-case scenario, when you have no other choice, having some type of prosthetic tooth replacement in place is better than leaving the gap. The reason is not just based on aesthetics, though. Having a prosthetic in place is important to:
- Make sure your other teeth don’t move around: When a tooth is missing, the nearby teeth may shift or tip into the empty space to close the gap.
- Keep the nearby teeth healthy: Because the tooth is no longer there, the other teeth have to work extra hard to keep your mouth functioning, making them more susceptible to dental issues like cavities.
- Prevent the jawbone from receding: Every part of the mouth communicates with its neighbors, which means that even the jawbone will start losing mass when it senses the absence of a tooth root. This is a long-term change, and may require bone grafting surgery to correct if you decide to restore the area later.
- Maintain normal chewing and speaking activity: Believe it or not, even missing just a few teeth could change your chewing and speaking patterns. Replacing the tooth is often enough to fix this seemingly minor problem.
When patients are made aware of the difficulties and risks associated with missing teeth, many seek prosthetic replacement. In some cases, patients have been edentulous for a long time and decide they want to restore their smile, and ability to smile, speak and chew without compromise … and that’s where fixed bridges come in. Unlike dentures, fixed bridges are customized to attach directly to the rest of the mouth, making them a permanent way to replace a series of lost teeth.
What Is The Installation Procedure For Dental Bridges Like?
To fasten a fixed dental bridge, the healthy teeth surrounding the area need to be carefully shaved down to accommodate new crowns, which will support a suspended tooth in between. Even during the grinding down process, your dentist will make the adjustment in as minimally invasive and safe as possible.
Once the abutting teeth have been prepared, impressions will be taken of the area which will be used to create the properly fitting bridge and crowns. This is done by a lab and it can take a couple weeks for the bridge to be made. Your dentist will give you a temporary prosthetic to wear during this time.
The bridge piece is commonly formed from tooth-colored porcelain or ceramic so that it matches the surrounding teeth as closely as possible.
When the prosthetics are ready, you will be called back into the office so your dentist can fit it in place. It might take several weeks to get the adjustments exactly right, but once this is achieved, the dentist can then cement the piece permanently onto the abutment teeth. The result should be an invisible transition from ordinary teeth to prosthetics, both in function and in appearance.
If you’re considering getting a dental bridge or other tooth replacement prosthetics, don’t hesitate to ask a K. Pat Brown, DDS, dentist about your options! We’re always happy to answer any questions or address any concerns. Just call our office at (951) 695-6269 or visit our website to set up an appointment!