In addition to taking a toll on your self-esteem, missing teeth can cause a variety of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the world of modern dentistry has several excellent methods of tooth replacement available.
One of the most simple and reliable methods available is also one with the most established track record: the dental bridge. Dr. Byron C. Desbordes of Baltimore, MD want to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a healthy smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a prosthesis (artificial replacement part) that replaces a missing tooth and is anchored by the remaining healthy teeth around it. In dental terms, the replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy adjacent teeth — termed the abutments — support the pontic on either side. The completed restoration reaches across the gap in your teeth just like a bridge spanning a canyon.
However, the teeth that will become the abutment must be specially prepared to support the pont by being crowned or “capped.” This process performed as if the teeth were being crowned due to tooth decay.
The outer layer of enamel on the abutment teeth is removed to allow the crown to completely cover them while still appearing lifelike and preserving the appearance of your mouth. Three connected crowns are placed, one on either side of the gap in your smile (the abutments) with a pontic in the empty space between.
Building a (Dental) Bridge
If you are missing only one tooth, your bridge will still require three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth and one in between (the pontic). This arrangement is called a three-unit bridge.
If multiple teeth are missing, more crowns will be needed on more abutment teeth to support the bridge. Your dentist determines this number by considering how many teeth are missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and the location in the mouth the teeth where the bridge is being placed.
Therefore, if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may be needed, creating a seven-unit bridge. Dentists like Dr. Desbordes must 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 often be completed in just two visits to Dr. Desbordes’ office. Local anesthetic will be administered and your abutment teeth will be prepared for crowning. Molds of the abutment teeth will be made to allow for the creation of three-dimensional models of them which will be used to craft the crowns. During this initial visit, a temporary bridge will be placed during before you leave the office so that you will still be able to eat and speak as you’re accustomed to.
When your permanent bridge is ready, Dr. Desbordes will permanently place it during your second visit. You will need time to adjust to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but will eventually come to accept it as part of your own teeth.
Caring for your Bridge
Crowned teeth require the same conscientious care as your natural teeth. Dentists recommend brushing twice daily and flossing every day to reduce the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Flossing will be slightly more difficult as you must weave the floss under the connected crowns to clean between them. It is even more important for you to see Dr. Desbordes for routine examinations and cleanings if you have a bridge since it can last for decades if cared for properly.
Dental Bridges in Baltimore, MD
If you are in the Baltimore area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (410) 216-4023 or schedule online with Dr. Desbordes today.