Do you have a missing tooth that is affecting the way you talk and smile? If so, you may be interested in finding a tooth replacement. Dental bridges are excellent options to replace missing teeth and restore your mouth’s function and appearance. Bridges are just one of the many tooth treatment options Dr. Wendy Willoughby, DDS offers here at Chestnut Family Dentistry in Asheville, NC.
What Are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge is made up of at least two artificial teeth called crowns that are connected together to form one continuous piece. This piece will “bridge” the gap where a tooth is missing in between your natural teeth. This will restore your mouth’s esthetics and function.
The Parts of a Dental Bridge
Each artificial tooth in a bridge is called a unit. Bridges usually have up to six units, allowing them to replace a maximum of four teeth per arch except in more special cases.
The teeth on either side of the gap are called abutments. They are shaped to support the crowns on the end of the bridge, which are permanently cemented to these natural teeth. The artificial tooth or teeth in the gap are called pontics, which are designed to look like individual teeth. Together, the abutments and pontic(s) form one continuous unit of individually shaped teeth to bridge a gap.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Bridges?
Bridges offer several excellent benefits as an option to replace a tooth. They are permanently cemented to the natural teeth, allowing you to have a fixed solution instead of an appliance you have to take in and out.
The treatment process is faster than implants or partials, which can take anywhere from over a month to several months and even a year. Bridges are typically completed and cemented in less than one month over the span of two appointments.
Dental bridges also help to prevent problems in the mouth caused by missing teeth by restoring ideal tooth function and distributing biting force across the bridge surface. This will allow you to eat a greater variety of foods while lessening the risk of tooth discomfort or breakage.
Bridges can also last anywhere from 10 to 15 years with proper home care, meaning that your investment will see a proper return in longevity and use. Finally, bridges can improve the appearance of your smile, allowing you to interact with others with more confidence. They will provide a replacement that both looks and feels natural.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Bridges?
There are several factors that are used to decide if you are a good candidate for a bridge: the number and area of missing teeth, your physical health, gum health, tooth health, and jaw bone density.
If you are missing 1-4 consecutive teeth on the same side of your mouth or at the front of your mouth, then you may qualify as a candidate. A single bridge cannot be used for nonconsecutive teeth or for teeth on opposite sides of the mouth.
A bridge is also a viable solution if you have missing teeth but cannot place an implant in the missing space and do not want a removable solution like a partial or a flipper.
A candidate for a dental bridge should be relatively healthy. Shaping teeth for a bridge is a procedure that requires the removal of tooth structure and will also affect the gums around the teeth. Therefore, be sure to let the dentist know if you have any major past or present health conditions. Some may disqualify you as a candidate, while others can possibly be managed with premedication or other measures.
It is important that your gums are in good health before placing a bridge. Gum disease causes inflammation and recession of the gums, which can negatively affect the fit and appearance of your bridge.
Periodontal issues can also cause bone loss and eventual tooth loss if allowed to progress. If you have periodontal issues, those will need to be addressed and treated before you begin a bridge.
The teeth that will be used to support the bridge should be in good health. You do not want to use broken or fractured teeth, as these can cause the bridge to fail. You also want the teeth to be free of decay to provide a healthy, strong support for your bridge. If the teeth on either side of the bridge are not healthy, then they cannot adequately support it.
Jaw Bone Density
If you want an implant-supported bridge, then you must have adequate bone density to support the bridge. If your bone is not dense and strong enough, then the forces from chewing may cause the implants to loosen and fail over time.
The Ideal Candidate
In conclusion, the ideal candidate for a dental bridge will be relatively healthy with good gum health, strong teeth free of decay, and good jaw bone density for an implant-supported bridge. If you are missing one to four consecutive teeth and meet these qualifications, you may qualify as a candidate for a bridge.
However, everyone’s situation is unique, so you may not necessarily qualify or be disqualified as a candidate because of a certain condition. That is why it is important to see a professional dentist who can work with you to determine your candidacy.
A Solution to Your Missing Tooth
We know that having a missing tooth can affect your dental health and your confidence in your smile. Contact Dr. Wendy Willoughby, DDS at Chestnut Family Dentistry in Asheville, NC to get the best treatment to help you achieve the mouth you desire. We look forward to hearing from you and taking care of your dental health.