In our office, we strive to help every patient retain a full set of natural teeth so that tooth replacements are never needed. But we realize there are times that a tooth may not be able to be saved. In those cases, we may suggest the placement of a dental bridge.
Choosing a dental bridge as a solution for a missing tooth is a decision that is made as a result of a conversation between Dr. Murphy and the patient, influenced by the desires and goals of the patient and Dr. Murphy’s education and experience.
When needed, a dental bridge is a relatively simple and fast procedure that offers plenty of benefits to our neighbors in Batavia, Geneva and other Illinois cities.
Who Needs a Dental Bridge?
When a patient is missing one or more teeth in a row, a dental bridge can fill this gap. If several teeth in a row are missing, then a different solution would be suggested, possibly a partial denture.
Placement of a bridge requires healthy teeth and gums on either side of the gap. Therefore, when a dental bridge is being considered, the first step would be to ensure that no treatment is needed in the location of the bridge. The teeth on either side of this gap will be used to anchor this dental appliance in the mouth so if there is any decay in these teeth, it will need to be corrected before proceeding.
It’s also important to ensure that there is no gum disease in this area. The health of the bone in your jaw can be seriously affected by untreated gum disease and that could cause your teeth to become loose. Obviously, loosening teeth could damage the stability of a bridge.
The Benefits of a Bridge
A beautifully designed and properly placed bridge offers these benefits:
- A smile with no missing teeth
- Restoration of the ability to chew your food thoroughly
- Removal of any impediment to speaking properly
- Protecting the proper shape of your face by filling in missing teeth
- Evenly distributing the stresses of chewing and biting
- Eliminating the biting or chewing stress placed on teeth on either side of a gap
- Preservation of the correct position of the teeth by preventing them from drifting into the open space
Getting Your New Bridge
The preparation for a bridge is much the same as the preparation for crowns. That’s because the two teeth on either side of the missing tooth will receive crowns. The difference with a bridge is it includes a porcelain or ceramic replacement tooth. If there is just one tooth missing, there will be one replacement tooth attached to two crowns. There could also be two or three replacement teeth in a row, requiring a longer bridge which is secured to the teeth on either side. More missing teeth than that would normally require a partial denture as a replacement.
When it has been verified that the teeth and gums in the area are healthy, and Dr. Murphy and the patient are both in agreement on the goals of treatment, the next step would be preparation of the two anchoring teeth. The crowns placed on these teeth may be referred to as abutments.
Just like when an individual crown is placed, the teeth must first be shaped to accept the abutments for the bridge. Some material will be trimmed from all sides and the top of these two teeth after the patient is numbed.
Then the exact dimensions of the final shape of these teeth must be recorded, which can be done by having the patient bite into a soft plastic mold or it can be done digitally with a special camera that fits into the mouth. The goal is an accurate representation of the space to be filled with the new bridge.
The specifications on the size of the two anchoring teeth, the opening created by the missing tooth and the person’s bite go to the lab so they can create the bridge out of ceramic or porcelain. In some cases, metal may be used as a foundation for this bridge to increase its longevity if it is likely to receive intense chewing or biting stresses.
After the dimensions are recorded, the patient will receive two temporary crowns to protect the anchoring teeth while the bridge is manufactured.
A week or two later, the patient will come back to have the bridge placed. This procedure will probably not require more numbing. First, the two temporary crowns which were fastened with a removable cement will be taken off. Then Dr. Murphy will carefully check the fit of the bridge and make any adjustments necessary to ensure a perfect fit. He may place the bridge and take it off several times as he makes these corrections.
When he is satisfied with the fit and both he and the patient are happy with the appearance of the bridge in the mouth, it will receive a final cementing. The permanent cement will be placed inside the two crowns and it will be fit onto the two anchoring teeth. After allowing it to sit for a few minutes, Dr. Murphy will clean away any excess cement and the procedure is done.
When you receive a new bridge, be sure you do not eat anything sticky for the first day so the cement under the bridge has a chance to bond fully.
Caring for a Bridge
While caring for crowns is much the same as caring for your natural teeth, caring for a bridge is a little different. A bridge can last for many years if it is cared for correctly, but if this care is not done consistently, it could fail in less than a decade.
In addition to brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily, you need to clean out any trapped food particles under the bridge. This will help prevent cavities from developing in the teeth under the two crowns. To clean under a bridge, you will need a thin loop of plastic called a floss threader and dental floss. Pass the end of your floss through the threader and then pull the floss under the bridge by slipping the end of the threader under the bridge and pulling it from the other side until your floss is under the bridge. Gently move the floss back and forth under the bridge a few times.
This is a very simple action, neglected by many people who have bridges, which will extend the life of your bridge. Just be sure to repeat this cleaning action every day.
We would like to help you with any questions you have about dental bridges and the benefits they might offer you. Whether you are in Batavia, Geneva or another nearby town, please feel free to call our office at 630-984-5605 so we can provide you with the answers you need.