If you have missing teeth, Dr. Park can close or ‘bridge’ the gaps in your smile with a dental bridge that is customized to look like your natural teeth. At Irondequoit Family Dentistry, we offer two types of dental bridges: Traditional bridges, which are secured by dental crowns; and implant-supported bridges, which are anchored by surgically placed dental implants. Our dental team will help you choose the technique that is best suited for your individual needs.
The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth
All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing, and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. When you have tooth loss, aesthetics is not the only reason to replace missing teeth. When a missing tooth is not replaced, the teeth surrounding it can shift. Missing teeth can also create an imbalance in force when biting and chewing. This exerts more stress onto the remaining teeth, which can cause them to wear down more quickly than they normally would.
Dental Bridge Options
Traditional Fixed Dental Bridges — A traditional dental bridge is a fixed structure consisting a false tooth (or teeth) made out of porcelain with a crown at each end. The crowns are cemented to your natural teeth on either side of the empty space. Fixed bridges will take several appointments in our dental office to complete. Although, bridges can also be made to be removable, fixed bridges are the most common type of dental bridges.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridges — An implant-supported bridge is similar to a regular dental bridge, but it is supported by implants and not by natural teeth. Implant-supported dental bridges require two surgeries to place and prepare the implant for the bridge. It uses two or more dental implants placed on either side of the false tooth as anchors, rather than crowns, which are used for traditional fixed dental bridges. Implant-supported bridges also avoid putting any additional stress and damage to your natural teeth. Read more about dental implants.
Removable Dental Bridges — Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts.
Benefits of Dental Bridges for Tooth Replacement
All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing, and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. Here is a list of dental bridge benefits:
- Improves overall dental health
- Restores your natural smile
- Reduces the risk of gum disease, which can be the worst side effect of missing teeth
- Prevents the remaining teeth from shifting
- Allows you to bite and chew more efficiently
- Avoids speech disorders from developing
- Maintains the natural shape of your face by supporting your lips and cheeks
Traditional Fixed Dental Bridge Process
The attachment procedure for fixed dental bridges usually takes two or three appointments to complete. Below are the steps involved:
Step 1 – Dr. Park will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel to allow room for the crown to be placed over them.
Step 2 – Impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a laboratory so a bridge, a false tooth (a pontic), and crowns can be created to fit the unique configuration of your mouth. During the 2 to 3 weeks while the bridge is being manufactured, the patient will be given a temporary dental bridge to protect the exposed teeth and gums.
Step 3 – Dr. Park will remove the temporary bridge and replace it with your new, permanent bridge. He will check to make sure the bridge fits properly and then cement it to the teeth.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridge Process
An implant-supported dental bridge requires several stages of treatment that will be spaced out over the span of six to nine months. Below are the steps involved:
Step 1 – Before any procedure starts, Dr. Park will do a comprehensive examination by reviewing your dental and medical histories. Detailed imaging will be taken and examined to ensure that you’re a candidate for an implant-supported bridge. In some cases where bone loss has already occurred in the jaw, bone grafts may be needed prior to surgery.
Step 2 – If there is enough bone to support an implant successfully, the next appointment and first surgery will be done about a month after your first appointment. During the first surgery, the implant is placed in the jaw and covered with gum tissue. Next, we wait for three to six months for a process called osseointegration to occur. This is when the titanium posts begin to fuse with the bone.
Step 3 – At the end of the healing period from the first surgery, a second surgery is done. There will be a small insertion made in the gums in order to expose the heads of the implants. Once that is healed, we will attach abutments to your dental implants, which will anchor your custom-made bridge to the implant. Impressions are taken, which are used to design the restoration and sent to a dental lab for fabrication. A healing cap (collar) will be placed on the head of the implant, which will guide the gum to heal. This collar will stay in place until we insert a temporary bridge. This temporary bridge will later be replaced by a permanent one.
Step 4 – After we receive your bridge from the dental laboratory, we will ensure that the framework fits well. The dentist will then complete the bridge and place it in your mouth.
How should I care for my dental bridge?
With proper care and good dental hygiene, your dental bridge can last over ten years.
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, and use an antiseptic mouth rinse
- Avoid hard and sticky foods (hard candies, nuts, popcorn kernels, caramel, etc.)
- Limit intake of sugary or acidic foods and drinks
- Schedule regular teeth cleanings and dental visits