Missing teeth can cause all kinds of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating well, leading to poor nutrition. This is in addition to issues with self-confidence and problems making a good first impression. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry now has several excellent methods for replacing lost teeth available to patients.
The dental bridge is still one of the simplest and most reliable treatments. Dr. Tom Trinkner of Columbia, SC wants to take a moment to explain the benefits of dental bridges for restoring a full, healthy smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis that replaces a missing tooth with an artificial one that is anchored by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic” — from the French word “pont” meaning bridge — while, the healthy adjacent teeth — called abutments — hold up the pontic on either side. The completed prosthesis crosses over the gap left by your missing tooth just like a bridge spanning a canyon.
However, the teeth that will serve as the abutment must be prepared to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” These crowns are completed much the same way as if the teeth needed them due to tooth decay or damage.
First, their enamel is removed, chiseled away to make space for the crown to fit over and completely cover them while maintaining a lifelike appearance. The crowns on the abutment teeth will anchor the false tooth (pontic) in between. The pontic is really just another crown but with no living tooth underneath.
Building a Bridge
As explained above, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge will be comprised of three crowns: two capping the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This common arrangement is known as a three-unit bridge.
If more than one tooth in a row is missing, more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to create and support the bridge. Your dentist must take several variables into account in this situation: the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and also from where in the mouth the teeth were lost.
So if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary to support them, thereby making your bridge a seven-unit bridge. Engineering and designing dental bridge requires Dr. Trinker or your area dentist to have an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to replace teeth.
What to Expect
Bridgework can usually be completed in two visits to the dentist’s office. At the first visit, local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared as described above. Molds of the supporting teeth will be taken to create three-dimensional models of your teeth, used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed during that first visit, before you leave the office.
When your permanent bridge is ready, Dr. Trinkner or your area dentist will permanently place place during the next appointment. You will need time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but will eventually forget that it’s not your natural teeth.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious care as your other teeth. Be sure to brush them twice daily and floss them every day to reduce the build-up of dental plaque around them. It is even more important to schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge as they can last a very long time with proper care.
Dental Bridges in Columbia, SC
If you are in the Columbia, SC area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with Dr. Trinkner or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call 803.400.8729 or schedule online with Dr. Trinkner today.