If you’ve been told you need a dental bridge, you might be confused. What is a bridge and what does it mean? Is this a major procedure? Is it expensive? Is it necessary? How will it affect my life?
Bridges are actually very simple: they are used to replace missing teeth and prevent the problems that result from losing a tooth. The procedure can be completed in a single visit, though you must have an impression taken beforehand so the bridge can be built to fit your mouth well. Bridges are the most cost-efficient way to replace a tooth, and the most common.
If you’ve lost a tooth, you may feel like you just want to leave it alone and get on with your life—you have plenty of other teeth, right? But leaving that space empty can cause you problems down the road.
Not getting a bridge can lead to:
Bridges offer a fast, affordable solution that stabilizes your teeth and prevents the damage a missing tooth can cause.
Dr. Brian Chan recommends a dental bridge for patients who are missing one or more adjacent teeth. When the space from missing teeth is left untreated, it can result in shifting teeth, bone loss, and structural changes to your alignment. It may not happen right away, but when there is space, teeth shift their alignment and this changes your bite. Furthermore, spaces and misaligned teeth can be unattractive and embarrassing for most patients.
Losing a tooth puts unnecessary stress on jaw joints, which can lead to TMJ disorder. This condition causes patients to experience frequent headaches and migraines, stiff shoulders/neck, and pain when opening the mouth.
At your appointment, Dr. Chan will examine your mouth and missing teeth. He will prepare the two teeth on either side of the gap (abutment teeth) by removing a thin layer of tooth enamel. This allows for a smooth attachment surface for the bridge. A bridge is fabricated with two dental crowns fused together with one or more artificial teeth (pontics) in between. The number of pontics required will depend on the number of teeth missing. The dental bridge, created from durable porcelain, is natural-looking and stain resistant. Dr. Chan will bond the bridge to the abutment teeth on either side of the gap to fill in the empty space.
If you decide to attach a dental bridge to nearby teeth, it’s important to know that these teeth will always need to be protected, since a thin layer of enamel is removed in the preparation process. Tooth enamel protects teeth from bacteria and otherwise harmful substances. It also strengthens a tooth; therefore when a layer is removed, the tooth is susceptible to infection and damage.
Alternatively, a bridge can affix to two dental implants to create a more secure attachment. During implant surgery, Dr. Chan will create a small incision in the gums and imbed the titanium posts into the healthy, strong jawbone. Once osseointegration is complete (four to six months later), he will place either side of the custom-made bridge to each of the implants.
Most patients prefer an implant-retained bridge, however, before you can undergo implant surgery, you must first be deemed fit for surgery. Before surgery, Dr. Chan will perform a full intake of your medical and dental history, as well as test the strength of your jawbone. Patients who practice long-term good oral hygiene routines are often the best candidates for dental implants. If you’re interested in an implant-retained bridge, but do not have a strong bone density, bone grafting may be applicable.
Unlike a traditional dental bridge, an implant-supported bridge stimulates the bone each time you bite down. This promotes jawbone strength and prevents structural changes.
Dr. Chan encourages patients to have a dental bridge created and placed because it’s reliable and sturdy. Patients benefit both cosmetically and functionally when they decide to receive this procedure. Studies have shown that a beautiful smile appears healthier and can even help patients look younger.
Eating, speaking, and other dental functions can be troublesome when you have missing teeth; therefore this procedure allows patients to use their mouth to the full advantage. Say goodbye to diet restrictions, speech changes, and jaw pain!
If you’re interested in learning more about how a dental bridge can improve your appearance, confidence, and dental function, call 858-485-6781. Dr. Chan and our experienced Rancho Bernardo, CA staff are happy to answers any additional questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.