Imagine that you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. Do you want a missing tooth to disrupt your otherwise healthy smile? Dental bridges are options to replace missing teeth and to complete the smile. For patients near Greensboro, NC, Dr. Steven Hatcher of Triad Dentistry explains the benefits of dental bridges as permanent restorations.
Benefits of dental bridges
Dental bridges are fixed dental devices used to replace missing teeth. Traditional bridges involve two crowns placed over natural teeth or implants with a false tooth in the middle replacing the missing tooth. Bridges can be used to replace one or a few missing teeth in a row. Once cemented into place, permanent bridges are not removable and become a fixed part of the mouth.
A dental bridge covers the gap left by one or more missing teeth. There is more than one type of dental bridge. These include traditional, implant-supported, cantilever, and Maryland. bridges are the most common. These bridges utilize two crowns which are placed over the adjacent natural teeth or dental implants. A false tooth is in the middle of the two crowns. The crowns support and stabilize the bridge.
When there is a gap from a missing tooth, a dental bridge is a good replacement option. Bridges have aesthetic and functional benefits.
Aesthetically complete smile – For patients who have been embarrassed by missing teeth, bridges help restore beautiful, complete smiles.
Facial fullness – When a tooth is lost, the cheeks may lose volume. Bone loss may occur causing a sunken appearance. Bridges complete the smile and maintain facial fullness.
Functional smile – With a bridge in place, the chewing surface and bite are strengthened. Dental restorations look and act as natural teeth so routine functions occur comfortably and naturally. Patients can eat and speak without problems since the gap from the missing tooth has been filled.
Reduced risks – Generally speaking, when a gap exists from a missing tooth, the adjacent teeth begin to shift. This can lead to problems with the bite. The bridge keeps the teeth firmly in place so they cannot move or cause additional dental issues.
What to expect
Bridge placement requires more than one visit as the adjacent teeth must be prepared for the crown placement that will secure the bridge into position. Impressions are taken of the missing and surrounding teeth. The impressions are sent to an off-site laboratory to have the custom bridge created. Using the dentist’s notes and the dental impressions, the bridge and crowns are matched to the surrounding teeth in color, size, and shape. The restoration blends naturally as a functional part of the mouth.
While waiting for the permanent bridge to come back from the lab, a temporary bridge can be placed. Within a couple weeks, the custom bridge should be ready to be placed into position. The dentist assesses the fit and function to check for issues. The bridge should feel comfortable and natural.
After the bridge has been placed, it is important to care for it properly. This decreases the chances of cavities or inflammation along the gumline. The dental team provides specific cleaning and care instructions to preserve the restoration. Good oral health habits apply.
Brush twice per day and floss at least once daily to keep the teeth and gums healthy.
Use a soft bristled toothbrush.
Use a oral irrigator to clean away particles left behind by brushing and flossing.
After brushing and flossing, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to keep food particles and bacteria from settling on the teeth and gums.
Avoid biting down on chewy or hard foods such as candies, caramels, or nuts to prevent damage to the restoration.
Do not bite on hard items.
Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. If you are prone to these activities, speak with your dentist about a protective mouthguard.
Visit the dentist regularly for exams and cleanings. This keeps your entire mouth healthy and catches issues early.
A graduate from the University of North Carolina, Dr. Hatcher majored in biology and completed his undergraduate studies there. At UNC, he was awarded a cancer research grant from the National Institutes of Health after which he graduated from dental school.
Dr. Hatcher is a passionate and driven professional who strives to preserve and enhance natural beauty in every dental treatment. He is keen on developing an individualist approach when it comes to treating his patients to ensure patient care is a tailor-made experience for the comfort of each client.