All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age, but if you do lose teeth they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it’s difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.
Why do I need a bridge?
- Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
- Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.
- Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.
- Missing teeth can cause speech disorders as they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.
How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment Dr. West or Dr. Petersen will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin. Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed. Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.