If you have one or more missing teeth, you know that it’s both embarrassing and inconvenient. But the problems don’t stop there.
A missing tooth in front has obvious effects on your smile, but can also affect your ability to bite into certain foods. A missing tooth in back usually leads to chewing on one side. That can cause premature wear on your teeth and also lead to aches and pains.
And the tooth above or below the missing tooth typically gets longer as there’s no tooth to keep it in check.
None of these problems are good for your oral health or for your self-esteem.
Dental bridges are a time-tested solution to restore both your smile’s appearance and your ability to eat comfortably.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Basically, it’s series of dental crowns that are created as a single unit. Two or more of the crowns are hollow to enable them to fit over teeth on both ends of the “gap.” One or more crowns are solid – basically a replacement tooth or teeth – which bridges the gap, restores your ability to chew, and keeps the opposite tooth from getting longer. Those replacement teeth are known as pontics.
Traditional dental bridges have been used successfully for decades. Today’s modern bridges are more aesthetically pleasing and more durable than ever.
The material for your dental bridge will depend on your specific needs. e.max crowns combine excellent aesthetics with good durability. Zirconium crowns are very durable, and those will often be used for high-pressure areas such as molars. Zirconium’s appearance can be enhanced by being layered with porcelain. This provides an outstanding appearance.
Finally, your crowns can be porcelain fused to metal. These tooth-colored porcelain crowns are very natural-looking but are even stronger due to the added metal.
What’s Involved with a Dental Bridge
The neighboring teeth, called abutments, are carefully reduced in size to allow the crowns to be fitted and still appear natural. It generally takes several weeks for the dental lab to create your bridge, so those teeth may be covered with temporary crowns to protect them.
After the abutment teeth are reduced, careful measurements and images are taken and sent to the dental lab to begin crafting your bridge. Once your dental bridge is prepared, Dr. Sykora will test-fit it and make any needed adjustments. In some cases, the bridge may be temporarily cemented into place to allow for further adjustments.
A dental bridge immediately restores your ability to chew comfortably and puts an end to the opposite tooth continuing to grow. With today’s advanced materials and fabrication, your smile will look great!
Dental Bridge Issues
Dental bridges are durable and attractive, but they’re not always the best option.
The estimated lifespan for a traditional dental bridge is roughly 10-12 years. Some last longer, some wear out faster. A lot of the durability of dental bridge has to do with how well you take care of it. A special flossing technique is required, which we’ll carefully demonstrate to you.
Over time, the abutment crowns can cause problems. When you chew on a bridge, the force is transferred to the abutment teeth that are holding the bridge in place. That’s a lot of stress on those teeth and can cause cracking and even fractures. If those adjacent teeth decay, the crowns may fail and the bridge will come loose. Depending on the extent of decay, the teeth may be able to be restored. Of, you may need to have those teeth removed and an even longer bridge created.
An Alternative to the Traditional Bridge
For people missing a single tooth, a dental implant can be an attractive option.
Dental implants consist of two parts. The implant itself is a very small screw, usually a titanium metal, which is inserted through the gum and into the underlying bone. The implant serves to hold the crown, or replacement tooth, firmly and securely.
When you chew, the force is transmitted directly to the underlying bone, not to the neighboring teeth. And, a natural space is left between the implant and the neighboring teeth so brushing and flossing is as easy as ever.
Dental implants are the most durable of all dental restorations. The implant itself should last your lifetime, and the dental crown can last significantly longer than the crown in a traditional bridge.
Your First Step to Restoring Your Missing Teeth
Dr. Sykora will be happy to determine the best approach to restore the appearance and function of your missing teeth. To arrange a consultation, call our West Chester, Pennsylvania dental office at 610-314-7534 for an appointment. We’ll be happy to arrange a day and time that works best for you. Or, send us a message using our online form. A member of our team will get back with you as soon as possible.