Missing teeth can cause a multitude of problems — more than just an incomplete smile — including difficulty speaking normally and difficulty eating and poor nutrition due to a limited diet. Luckily, the world of modern dentistry offers several good options for replacing lost teeth. One of the most simple yet reliable choices is the dental bridge. The skilled dental professionals at Lanier Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Buford, GA would like to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a complete, healthy smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a kind of prosthesis — a replacement part — that fills in the empty space left by a missing tooth and is supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The pontic is supported on both sides by the healthy adjacent teeth — called abutments. The completed prosthesis crosses over the gap in your teeth just like a bridge crosses over a canyon.
The teeth that will serve as the abutment must be prepared by your dentist to support the pont. For this purpose, they must be crowned or “capped.” This process is completed the same as if the teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage.
First, their enamel is chiseled away to create enough space for the crown to fit over and completely cover the abutments while maintaining a lifelike appearance. The crowns on the abutment teeth will hold up the false tooth (pontic) in between. The pontic is another crown but with no living tooth covered underneath.
Building a Bridge
As explained above, if you are missing only one tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one pontic in between. This arrangement is called a three-unit bridge.
If more than one tooth in a row has been lost, more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to support the bridge. Your dentist must account for several variables when calculating how many crowns will be needed: the number of missing teeth, the size, length and stability of the roots of the abutment teeth, and also location in the mouth from which the teeth were lost.
Therefore, if you are replacing three missing teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-unit bridge. Designing and engineering the bridge requires an understanding of not only how to replace teeth but their biology, and that of the gums and the bone tissue as well.
What to Expect
Getting bridge work completed usually requires two visits to your dentist. At the first appointment, your abutment teeth will be prepared as described above while you are under the influence of a local anesthetic. Lanier Family Dentistry will take molds of your prepped teeth will to use to prepare three-dimensional models of your teeth. These models are used to construct the crowns that will span the gaps in your teeth. Your dentist will place temporary bridge before you leave the office.
During the second appointment, your permanent bridge will be placed. It may take some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but you will come to accept it as part of your own teeth sooner than you realize.
Caring For Your Bridge
Crowns must be cared for in the same manner as your other teeth — brushed twice daily and flossed around every day to prevent the build-up of dental plaque. If you have a bridge, it is even more important to schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider. A well-cared-for bridge can last for more than a decade with proper care.
Dental Bridges in Buford, GA
If you are in the Buford area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call 678-359-4707 or schedule an appointment online with Lanier Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.