Missing teeth can cause complicated issues for patients—but there are a few reliable solutions we can utilize as dentists. At Accent Smile Center, we want to answer a key question you might have: How do dental bridges replace missing teeth?
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental restoration method used by doctors like our own Dr. Gatgens and Dr. Densmore. It spans the gaps between one or more missing teeth. The bridge consists of dental crowns, known as abutment teeth, which serve as anchors for the bridge. In between these crowns are false teeth called pontics, which fully fill the spaces in.
There are multiple types of dental bridges, and the process will typically require multiple visits with our doctors. Let’s go over what these options and procedures look like.
We want to highlight this variety since it is what we use in our office. It combines the strength of metal with the natural appearance of porcelain. They can last five to fifteen years when cared for properly. Here are some of the main properties of this type of bridge:
- Strength: The metal substructure (usually of alloys like gold, nickel, or chromium) allows for increased durability. This is custom-made to fit your teeth.
- Aesthetics: The outer layer of porcelain is matched to the color of your teeth, allowing for a seamless appearance. It reflects light similarly to tooth enamel.
- Biocompatibility: Porcelain is generally biocompatible with gum tissues, causing less irritation and abrasion, as well as potential allergic reactions.
During your own research, you may encounter other types of bridges—so we’ll provide you with an abbreviated description to help you discern their differences.
- Cantilever Dental Bridge: This is used when there’s only one tooth adjacent to the gap. The pontic is supported by a single dental crown on either side.
- Maryland (Resin-Bonded) Dental Bridge: Metal or porcelain framework is bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth. The pontic is attached to the framework and doesn’t require as much enamel removal as a traditional bridge.
- Implant-Supported Dental Bridge: This bridge doesn’t rely on natural teeth for support but rather is anchored to dental implants. These are surgically placed in the jawbone, providing a stable foundation for the bridge.
- Removable Dental Bridge (Partial Denture): This type of bridge is able to be taken out for cleaning. It may have a metal or plastic framework with artificial teeth and clasps that attach to natural teeth for stability.
Once we decide a dental bridge is a good next step for a patient, a lengthier process begins.
- Initial Exam and Consultation: Our doctors will assess your teeth and oral health and take x-rays to consider the condition of your teeth and surrounding structures.
- Treatment Planning: Based on our assessments, we will discuss treatment options and go into detail with the patient about the materials and process of their respective bridge option.
- Tooth Preparation: The teeth on either side of the gap (abutment teeth) will be prepared by removing a portion of the enamel to make room for the crowns that will anchor the bridge. If dental implants are involved, those will be placed first.
- Impressions: Molds of your teeth are taken to create a precise model of your teeth.
- Temporary Bridge: This is an optional choice that can serve as a solution in the interval between impressions and fabrication. The process can take multiple visits while the bridge is being made, so this can provide protection to your exposed teeth in the meantime.
- Model Fabrication: In a dental lab, the impressions are used to create models, considering bite and aesthetics during their creation.
- Bridge Fabrication: The actual bridge is custom-made to fit your anatomy. If any special materials need to be used, this will be the stage in which they are utilized.
- Fitting and Adjustments: Once your bridge is ready, you return to our office for one or more fittings. We check it for comfort, fit, and appearance. Adjustments can be made in-office.
- Permanent Placement: When we are all satisfied with the final product, we permanently cement it in place for fixed bridges. If the bridge is removable, you will be sent home with your appliance.
Remember that this process is never completed all at once and requires some patience. The duration can also vary based on the complexity of your individual situation, but we will do our best to keep you updated throughout the process. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the final step—it will be the deciding factor on how long your appliance lasts.
Bridging the Gap
We know this may seem like lots of information, but our job is to help explain it in a comprehensive way so that you aren’t too overwhelmed by the prospect of an appliance like a dental bridge! You can trust our expert team to carry out this procedure with excellence every single time. If you’re interested in this treatment approach to help resolve missing teeth, give our Dickson office a call at 615-802-7968.