Your teeth are important not only for eating but also for your appearance and speech. In addition, any lost teeth impact the alignment of all remaining teeth. That’s why it’s so important to replace any missing teeth. While there are several options available to replace missing teeth, such as dental implants and dentures, the most common one today is a dental bridge. Since not every person has the same needs, the different types of dental bridges are designed to meet the needs of each patient. We work closely with all our patients to ensure they understand the purpose of dental bridges and how they can improve life.
What is a Bridge?
When teeth are lost, they leave a gap that should not be left empty. That’s where a dental bridge enters the picture. Bridges do just what their name implies – they bridge the gaps between the remaining teeth to ensure the patient is better able to eat properly and speak clearly. Of course, a dental bridge also looks far nicer than an empty space.
Why do People Need Bridges?
There are actually a few reasons you may need a bridge. From a physical standpoint, a dental bridge serves several functions. First, when teeth are missing, the shape of your face actually changes. Cheeks appear sunken and most people appear to age dramatically when they have missing teeth.
Of course, it’s also far more difficult to eat without a full set of teeth. Chewing meats, for example, becomes incredibly difficult when teeth are missing. Even enjoying a nice, crisp apple becomes difficult when teeth are missing. When your diet is impacted, your overall health will almost certainly become compromised to some extent.
When teeth are missing, trying to chew food also puts unnatural stresses on the other tissue in your mouth. Gums are not designed to assist with chewing, which means additional oral health complications are possible when missing teeth are not replaced.
Another issue most patients fail to consider is the quality of speech deteriorates when teeth are missing. Your teeth play an important role in your ability to enunciate properly. While it may be cute to hear a child lisp after they lose a tooth, it’s not as entertaining when you’re older. Speech issues directly affect your ability to communicate both in work and social settings, suggesting replacing missing teeth is, indeed, important for psychological reasons as well as purely physical ones.
Dental bridges work well to resolve any of these issues. That means discussing the dental bridge options with our experts is strongly recommended when any teeth are lost. Our team is here and ready to develop a strategy to address your tooth replacement needs.
What Dental Bridge Options are Available?
Again, not every patient’s needs are the same, so we have different options to select from to ensure your specific needs are being met. The two basic types of bridges are fixed bridges and removable bridges.
- Fixed bridges are, in effect, attached permanently to your remaining teeth. In general, the replacement tooth or teeth are cemented to remaining adjacent teeth, creating an effective solution that does not need to be removed for cleaning or while sleeping. Each patient is evaluated to determine what type of dental bridge and method of bonding are best for their specific situation.
- Removable bridges, or dentures, are often selected as a solution, especially when several or all teeth are missing. Removable bridges are an excellent option for many patients, and newer techniques now make it possible for patients to avoid some of the common issues that plagued denture users in the past.
Today’s options have definitely improved when compared to older styles of dental bridges. While losing teeth is certainly not pleasant, there is no longer any need to dread the idea of using dental bridges as a solution for that type of loss.
How are Bridges Attached?
For the best results, bridges are often attached to the remaining teeth, commonly referred to as abutment teeth. Crowns are generally affixed to the abutment teeth to ensure there is a strong attachment point. That means if sturdy abutment teeth are not available, other options will be considered.
What Materials Are Used to Construct Dental Bridges?
Most bridges are constructed using gold, non-precious metal alloys, or porcelain. In many cases, a combination of materials is used to reduce the costs and make the replacement teeth more attractive. Since some combinations last longer, it’s a good idea to discuss the options with our team to make sure the best materials to fit your needs are selected.
What Types of Care Do Dental Bridges Require?
Fixed bridges are cared for in much the same way as your natural teeth. Regular brushing and flossing are required to protect not only the replacement teeth but the abutment teeth as well. As a rule, fixed bridges are expected to last for many years, but that life expectancy will be significantly reduced if proper care is not provided. There are also specific procedures for taking care of removable bridges, and our team is available to discuss the best options for all your oral health care needs.
If you have any questions about dental bridges or any of our other dental services, contact the Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry by phone or here on our website for more information or to schedule an appointment.