When a patient is missing a tooth, depending on the number of teeth missing, or the stability you are looking for, our team at Nicholas Dose, DMD Family Dental Care offers different options. Besides a dental bridge, there is also a partial denture and a dental implant. A partial denture is indicated when the patient has several missing teeth from different areas of the same arch. A partial denture is customized to each patient and is a removable device. Some patients find its ability to be removable to be a benefit for cleaning. Another option, with a better long-term prognosis, is the placement of single or multiple dental implants. Implants are a titanium rod that is inserted into the jawbone and once healed, becomes a permanent extension of the jawbone. This device will serve as a new tooth root that we can then place a dental crown over for a single tooth replacement, though an implant can also be used in tandem with other dental prosthetic devices such as a dental bridge, partial, or even full denture.
A dental bridge is designed to quite literally bridge the gap between your natural and missing teeth with the placement of a false tooth. The bridge itself is made up of two or more dental crowns on either side. These crowns are used to go over the anchor teeth or implants generally with the gap in between. The anchor teeth provide a strong foundation to anchor the bridge in place. Dr. Dose finds the use of a dental bridge to be effective in restoring a patient’s natural bite as well as to prevent the shifting of other existing teeth.
Besides options for anchoring your bridge, there are also material options for the false tooth used for a dental bridge. Dr. Dose can have your customized bridge fabricated using porcelain, gold, alloys, ceramic, zirconium, or a combination of these materials. Each material offers unique benefits varying in look, feel, and strength, making each a functional option for different areas of the mouth.
What are Dental Bridges used for?
Dental bridges are used for:
- Maintaining the Patient’s Natural Facial Shape: A dental bridge can help you keep the shape of your face. Tooth loss leads to bone loss, and with bone loss, the patient’s facial shape will alter, becoming smaller and sagging. By holding the place of the tooth and preventing shifting, as well as providing limited stimulation for the jaw, dental bridges may help to prevent bone loss.
- Cosmetically Enhance your Look: Missing teeth can be embarrassing. When a patient has a missing tooth, they tend to compensate by not smiling as often or as big, and some patients may speak and chew quieter or smaller so that no one can see the gap. Dental bridges help to restore the natural beauty of the patient’s smile.
- Restore your Chewing Function: Patients with missing teeth often chew unbalanced or eliminate foods from their diet altogether. To reduce heavy wear on other teeth, and for proper chewing function, we want our patients to chew evenly across their teeth. A bridge can restore proper function.
- Preventing Drift: Missing teeth leaves room for neighboring teeth to shift. Frequently, patients question us thinking it can be positive to have this room, teeth are often overcrowded, but, the difference is the lack of control. When an orthodontist decides to remove a tooth due to overcrowding, they then move the neighboring teeth in a controlled matter. Open spaces that allow teeth to just freely move means that they are moving out of control. This can greatly adjust your bite, and rarely for the better. Dental bridges are very effective in preventing existing teeth from drifting or shifting out of place.
- Correcting Bite Issues: Dental bridges are a valuable tool for keeping neighboring teeth in position, for allowing a patient to chew their food evenly distributed, and to assist in keeping the jawbone healthier than it would be with gaps.
Dental bridges offer our patients many variations, variations in how they are held in place, the materials used, and the number of teeth they can replace. At Nicholas Dose, DMD Family Dental Care, we will evaluate your needs, and make recommendations based on your specific situation. While reviewing your oral health, we want our patients to ask questions and concerns; this helps us know what treatment is right for you.
The most commonly placed bridge is known as the traditional bridge. It is usually made of ceramic materials or porcelain that has been fused to metal. We can use either healthy teeth, implants, or a combination of either to anchor the bridge. A false tooth is placed between the anchor teeth.
Cantilever bridges are only used for front teeth. This type of bridge is different because it only has one anchor position, not two. We use this device when there are adjacent teeth found on only one side of the gap of missing teeth; there is no anchor tooth on the other side. Because this type of bridge is held on only one side, we do not use it on back teeth, where the chewing pressure is greater. Also, because the cantilever bridge is only anchored on one side, it is easier for food particles to get under the device. The patient will need to take great caution in brushing and caring for their cantilever bridge.
The Maryland Bonded Dental Bridge does not use dental crowns over the anchor teeth. Instead, this prosthetic is designed with a false tooth, that has metal wings on either side. The metal wings are bonded to the backside of the adjoining teeth. Though durability can be less, patients do like the lower cost and less invasiveness of this type of dental bridge. The permanent teeth that are being used to anchor the false tooth do not require permanent alteration.
At Nicholas Dose, DMD Family Dental Care, we offer implant-supported bridges as another option for replacing missing teeth. Implants can be used when a patient has more than one tooth missing and can be used to support a bridge serving as the bridge’s anchor. Instead of fitting over healthy teeth, the crowns of the bridge are supported by dental implants.
Patients love implant secured bridges because they feel stable and secure. This stability makes implant secured bridges a great option when otherwise considering partial dentures. Implants are surgically placed in a minimally invasive in-office procedure. Dr. Dose places the titanium implant into the jawbone where, when it heals, will firmly stay in place. In most cases when a patient has multiple teeth missing we use a partial denture, which uses clasps and is removable. Implants allow us to fill in some empty spaces and then place a dental bridge for a strong, permanent hold.
The Dental Bridge Process
After your initial consultation with Dr. Dose, and the patient has determined to proceed with a dental bridge, the dental bridge process will then begin. We will first review your oral health through examination and with the assistance of digital x-rays.
The first step for designing a dental bridge is to prepare the abutment teeth for attachment. This involves contouring the shape of the teeth by removing enamel to make room for a crown to be placed on them. This means that we are taking steps to permanently alter your anchor teeth. Once the teeth are shaped, impressions will then be made of your bite and your teeth which are sent off to a dental lab for fabrication. While your bridge is being constructed by the lab, Dr. Dose will make a temporary bridge for you to wear, this will protect your gums and existing teeth until your new permanent bridge is ready.
Once we have received your dental bridge from the lab, we will contact you for a second office visit. Your second appointment will involve the fitting and placement of your new dental bridge. The temporary bridge will be removed, and your new metal or porcelain bridge checked for proper fitting. Dr. Dose will adjust as necessary until the perfect fit and bite are achieved. If the bridge that you are receiving is a permanent bridge Dr. Dose may add a temporary cement at first and have you return within a few weeks to ensure a perfect fit remains. Once we are both satisfied with the fit, Dr. Dose will then permanently cement it into place.
The lifespan of a dental bridge will vary from patient to patient depending on their oral hygiene practices. With proper care – including regular dental exams, cleanings, daily flossing, and brushing – a dental bridge should last the patient many years, most patients average 15 years or more. The success of the bridge itself is dependent on a solid, healthy foundation. This means that keeping the existing natural teeth in the best possible health will ultimately determine the life of your permanent or removable dental bridge. It also means that the patient takes steps to keep their gums healthy and free of the bacterial infection that comes with gum disease.
Caring for Your Dental Bridge
In most cases, a dental bridge has the potential to last a lifetime if cared for properly. Even if they come loose or fall out, Dr. Nicholas Dose can often recement the device in place, and even make some repairs when needed. We will always check the status of your bridge during your dental examinations. Also, just as you have been taught your whole life, the most important step in ensuring the longevity of your dental bridge is to practice good daily oral hygiene.
As always, keeping your gums and teeth healthy through daily brushing with the appropriate fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and flossing every night before you go to bed, will help you keep your remaining teeth and your bridge healthy and strong. Even with a dental bridge patients are still subject to bacterial infections, either under the bridge or their soft tissues. In fact, allowing plaque to remain along the rim of your bridge can have a significant impact on your dental health. That is because in many cases, the patient is not aware of the decay until they are in pain. You want to make every effort to keep your teeth and prosthetic devices clean and healthy. By maintaining good oral hygiene, and scheduling regular prophylaxis or dental cleaning appointments, it is not unusual for your dental bridge to last more than ten years.
In addition to keeping your dental bridge clean, you will want to protect your device from damage. Your bridge is subject to cracking and breaking if not used correctly. Avoid chewing hard foods and objects. Chewing ice, hard candies, and more can cause breakage in your dental bridge.
If you are a patient that is suffering from tooth loss and wish to explore your tooth replacement options, we invite you to contact our Lake Oswego office. We can review your needs and share your options with you, which may include a dental bridge.
Are you interested in getting a dental bridge? Give us a call at (503) 647-4565. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!
Or book an appointment with us online today!