When a person has lost one or more tooth, a dental bridge made of artificial teeth is used to replace the missing teeth. Dental bridges fill the gap.
There are removable bridges and permanent bridges. Removable bridges are anchored to the teeth and are fitted with hooks. These bridges can be removed after meals for cleaning.
Permanent bridges are anchored on either side with crowns with false teeth in between. This bridge is placed on the gums and are cemented to the anchor teeth on either side.
Do you need dental bridges?
Dental bridges are made for people who have one or more missing teeth. Teeth may fall off due to causes like tooth decay, gum disease, injuries etc. Some children are born with a congenital disease where they are born with missing teeth.
Why do you need a bridge?
Each tooth in the mouth is there for a purpose. And all the teeth work in unison. When one tooth is lost, the work of that tooth is being done by other teeth and they get a little more pressure on them because of additional work.
When more than one tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth have to take on some extra work to compensate. Since they are not meant for this extra workload, the act of chewing gets compromised to a large extent.
Shifting of other teeth
Another problem that happens because of the missing tooth is the shifting of neighbouring teeth towards the space left by the missing tooth. When the teeth move from their original place, there is a problem of bite since changing place makes for improper bite which ultimately affects the biting and chewing process. Sometimes the chewing problems may be detected through other ailments like digestion and intestinal ailments.
The missing teeth also affects a person’s self-concept. Your face is part of your personality and the first thing that other people notice about you. If you have missing tooth, it makes your smile less attractive and it shows on your face. Because of the less attractive smile you tend to smile lesser which then impacts your social interaction. And this becomes a vicious circle unless you decide to do something about the missing teeth.
Bridges add to your self-esteem in addition to preventing other dental problems of improper bite and shifting teeth. It will also add pleasure to your mealtimes since bridges fill the gap created by missing teeth. The help in chewing process, and may allow you to enjoy your food better than before because now you can eat food of your choice since you have all the teeth as before.
To get a dental bridge, you need have to have two proper teeth on either side of the bridge to anchor the bridge. You should also have proper teeth structure of the anchor teeth because it will have to be scraped a bit to allow the bridge to be fixed.
The patient must undergo a small procedure for preparing the anchor teeth for the crowns which are abutment teeth on the bridge, to fix them on the anchor teeth.
Types of bridges
The following are some of the different types of dental bridges that are available today.
Traditional bridges fixed and cemented on anchor teeth:
This is the most popular bridge and is commonly used even today. It has two crowns – one at each end, and pontics or false teeth (as many as are missing). These bridges are made from metal or porcelain or ceramics. If they fit snugly on the anchor teeth, they will last for a long time. These bridges cannot be changed because they are cemented onto the anchor teeth.
Here the bridge does not have two anchor teeth. There is only one anchor on the front side. The last tooth is missing and the bridge cannot rest on the other end on a tooth. It has only one crown which sits on tooth working as a support to this bridge, so the pontic can have only one tooth as an abutment. People who have no tooth at the end of the jaw can make do with cantilever bridge. This kind of bridge does not last for long.
Maryland dental bridge:
Maryland dental bridge is a resin bonded bridge where the person has teeth missing in front and do not have any teeth left to become an abutment tooth. This bridge is made with porcelain fused with metal or ceramic teeth and is supported by a made-up frame. There are wings on each side which is attached to the existing teeth.
Implant supported bridge:
In this kind of bridge, the patient has implants on either side of the bridge which acts as abutment for the bridge. It is a fixed bridge where implants are anchors.
When bridges are fixed to anchors, they last for a longer time provided they are looked after well and all the instructions given by the dentist are followed.
Treat the problem early
To get the bridge in place you will need to discuss the missing teeth problem with your dentist. It is important to visit your dentist and discuss possibilities as soon as you miss your teeth.
When a lot of time elapses before you see your dentist, you may find your jawbone has change a little, and your smile has changed too, because when there is no stimulation to the jaw bone, and the bone recedes into the body where it is needed.
It is better to call your dentist as soon as you lose the teeth. The dentist will discuss the options with you and take digital images as well as physical impressions on a model of your mouth. They will then send the model and the digital image to the laboratory where the bridge will be made.
In the meantime, the dentist will prepare your teeth for fixing the bridge and may give you a temporary bridge to protect the exposed areas of the prepared teeth. When the lab sends the bridge to the dentist’s office, you will then undergo the final procedure of fixing the bridge.