A dental bridge is a false tooth or set of false teeth that is permanently attached, anchored in place by the teeth on either side of the gap. The main reason you would get a dental bridge is if one or more of your teeth are missing. A dental bridge restores the look of your smile and your chewing function, and looks like your original teeth.
Signs You Might Need a Bridge
If you are currently missing one or more teeth, you may be a good candidate for a bridge. If part of your treatment plan requires removing a tooth, it will likely be replaced with a bridge. Either way, your MCDC dentist will take a look and determine if a bridge is right for you.
Reasons for a Bridge
Teeth are meant to work together, so if teeth are missing it can cause serious issues. Missing teeth can impact your bite, change your speech, cause existing teeth to shift, put you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, lead to bone shrinkage, and change the way the jawbone supports your lips and cheeks. A bridge can help prevent all those issues, while also giving you back your smile. A bridge may also be used to replace a removable partial denture.
Keeping your own teeth is always best, but when the loss of a tooth or several teeth does occur, a bridge can be the next best thing. Here’s why:
- Because a bridge is permanently fixed to the supporting teeth, it is more stable than a partial denture. This provides better chewing ability.
- When several teeth next to each other are missing, one bridge can replace them all, making it more economical and efficient than replacing them individually.
- In the instance when one or more of the teeth supporting the bridge would benefit from a crown, a replacement for the missing tooth can also be provided. The supporting tooth gets a crown-like cap and it all happens in a single dental restoration, saving you time and money.
A bridge often requires three appointments. Here’s what you can expect:
- Exam: We will go over treatment options and what type of bridge is the best fit for you. We will also discuss the cost at this appointment.
- Reshaping: Next, we’ll numb your mouth and remove the outer portion of the teeth supporting the bridge. Then an impression will be made to serve as the mold for the bridge. While the bridge is being made, your teeth will be capped with temporary crowns to protect them. We will remove any dental decay or infection before reshaping the teeth.
- Fitting: After 2-3 weeks, you will be notified that the bridge is ready. You’ll come in for your second appointment, during which we will mount the dental bridge. Once we ensure it fits your natural bite and tooth color, we’ll permanently cement it.
- Care call: Caring for you is our number one priority, so someone from our dental team will follow up with a phone call. During this call, we’ll answer any questions and address any concerns.
No matter your treatment, we want to ensure that you receive the highest quality, individualized care and that it’s delivered with compassion, so please don’t hesitate to provide feedback on your experience with us.
Bridges are typically made from porcelain, but there are other options. Your dentist will discuss the various options and help you figure out what best meets your needs. Factors that impact material selection include:
- Tooth location
- How much of the tooth will show in your smile
- Position of your gum tissue
- Function of the missing tooth/teeth that the bridge is replacing
- Color of the surrounding teeth
Due to how they are made, you cannot floss a bridge by going between the teeth. Bridges are also prone to trapping food and plaque underneath them, because they sit on top of the gums. For these reasons, it’s extremely important to follow good oral hygiene. If you don’t, your bridge may fail and need to be replaced due to decay or gum disease. To care for your bridge:
- Use the special floss threader or small brush recommended by your dentist to clean under
your bridge and the supporting teeth.
- Gently brush and floss twice a day.
- Avoid chewing ice or hard foods, as doing so might cause your bridge or other teeth to
Typically, a bridge will last 5-15 years before needing to be replaced. How long it lasts depends on many factors, including the number of teeth the bridge replaced, the health and bone support of the anchor teeth, your bite, and your ability to maintain good oral hygiene. The better you take care of your bridge, the longer it will last, so proper maintenance will save you money in the long run.
A bridge can be a very useful solution to a missing tooth. But there are risks and possible complications that you might experience after getting a bridge.
- Teeth sensitivity: It’s not unusual for the teeth supporting the bridge to be sensitive to heat or cold. Adjusting the bridge may help, so let us know if you experience this issue.
- Chipped bridge: Certain bridges can be vulnerable to chipping. We may be able to repair small chips.
- Knocked out or loose bridge: Bridges can get loose or even fall out if there isn’t enough cement keeping them in place. If it feels wiggly, let us know!
- Gum irritation: If you notice your gums around your bridge getting sore or irritated, or if they start bleeding, this could be a sign of gum disease. Contact your MCDC office, and we’ll advise you on next steps.