It's easy to ignore a single missing tooth. However, did you know that even one missing tooth can have serious consequences on your oral health? More than just affecting your smile, a missing tooth can affect your ability to properly chew your food. Food can even become lodged in the space, increasing your risk of developing gum disease. Your adjacent teeth may shift from their natural position, throwing off your bite. This can lead to other problems, such as tooth wear and jaw pain. At Life Long Dental, we can help to restore missing teeth with a dental bridge.
What is a bridge?A bridge is a dental appliance that literally "bridges" the gap left behind by missing teeth. It is typically used to replace anywhere from one to three teeth. The false teeth, known as "pontic" teeth, are set between two crowns, which are anchored on adjacent healthy teeth to hold the appliance in place. Bridges are most frequently made out of ceramic because the material perfectly imitates both the color and the sheen of your natural teeth.
How is a bridge placed?Getting a bridge normally takes two separate visits. During your first visit, the teeth on which the crowns will sit (abutment teeth) are prepared. What this means is that the teeth are trimmed (or filed) down. This process allows for the crowns to fit naturally over the abutment teeth and the bridge to sit naturally in your mouth. Then, we take impressions of your mouth and match the color of your natural teeth. This information is sent to a lab, which creates your bridge. It can take upwards of two weeks for your bridge to be ready. In the meantime, we will provide you with a temporary bridge.
When your bridge is ready, you will come back in for your second visit. During this visit, the bridge is checked for fit and color. If everything looks good, we use a dental cement and set the bridge in place.
This patient presented with a broken tooth and decay on the adjoining tooth.
Dr. Sherrard removed the decay and placed crowns on the two teeth around the space with an artificial tooth to replace the missing one.
Caring for Your BridgeCaring for your bridge is no different from caring for the rest of your teeth. You should still continue to brush and floss every day. Even though the ceramic cannot experience decay, it can accumulate plaque, and therefore contribute to gum disease. You should also be sure to maintain regular dental visits, where the condition of your bridge can be checked for signs of damage. Take care to avoid chewing on anything exceptionally hard, such as popcorn kernels, ice, your fingernails or writing utensils.
Benefits of BridgesA dental bridge offers you numerous benefits:
If you are missing teeth, even just one, you should have them replaced. For more information on bridges, or to schedule your consultation, call Life Long Dental at (360) 633-2377 today.
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