If you’ve recently lost a permanent tooth due to injury, trauma, or some other cause, you’re probably wondering what you can do to restore your natural smile. Aside from the obvious cosmetic concerns, a missing tooth can lead to pain when chewing, discomfort in your jaw, and other issues related to a change in your bite.
Here at Germantown Dental Group, we offer a range of restorative dental services designed to restore optimal functioning and appearance to your smile. If you have one or more missing teeth in the same area, a dental bridge can be an excellent option. If you’re unfamiliar with this procedure, it can be helpful to understand how a dental bridge works and what to expect from the treatment process. Keep reading below to learn more!
What is a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are composed of a false tooth or teeth that are supported by dental crowns that have been placed on the natural teeth on either side of the gap. The artificial teeth, along with the crowns, are customized to properly fit your teeth and match their appearance. It’s all in the name—this treatment literally “bridges” the gap between your teeth, improving both their form and function. By closing any spaces left by missing teeth, a bridge can enhance the strength of your bite, decrease the chances of the surrounding teeth shifting, and improve the overall look of your mouth with natural, long-lasting results.
The different types of dental bridges
There are four main types of bridges, and our experienced doctors will determine which is the right option for your specific needs.
A traditional bridge is the most common bridge we offer. It includes one or more fake teeth that are held in place with crowns. These crowns are cemented to the teeth that surround the empty space where the missing tooth once was.
The cantilever bridge is supported by a crown on only one side. If you only have one tooth next to the missing one, we can still secure this type of crown to your mouth.
Maryland bridges take a more conservative approach than some of the other models. This bridge uses a porcelain or metal framework to hold the fake tooth in place, and aren’t as strong as those that have been cemented in. Teeth that have a great deal of biting force may not a good candidate for a Maryland bridge.
Finally, we have the implant-supported bridge, which is often used when you have more than one tooth missing. These bridges are held in place by implants that have been secured to your jawbone for maximum stability. Many times, we will place one dental implant for each tooth that’s missing.
How is a dental bridge placed?
The first step in the treatment process is taking imprints and measurements of your mouth. You may be asked to bite down on a soft piece of foam to create the imprint, which allows us to create a comfortable bridge with a proper fit. If your teeth are compromised in any way, we may need to place temporary crowns. These will offer a measure of protection while you wait for your custom-made bridge to be created.
Placing a dental bridge doesn’t require surgery, so you’ll be awake throughout the procedure. Many patients are understandably anxious about this, so we offer mild sedation to help you relax if needed. One of our doctors will then numb the affected area of your mouth with a local anesthetic by injecting medication directly into your gums. Any temporary crowns will be removed, and we’ll apply the cement that holds the bridge in place, followed by the bridge itself.
During the procedure, the local anesthetic will keep you from feeling any sharp pain. We will, however, have to keep your mouth open for quite some time as we place the bridge. This can leave you with a bit of soreness or discomfort in your jaw once the anesthetic wears off, which is usually resolved with an over-the-counter pain reliever. An ice pack held against the outside of your jaw can also provide some relief.
Recovery is very minimal with a dental bridge placement! At the end of your procedure, we’ll give you instructions on how to properly brush and floss your new bridge. Most patients are able to eat normally as soon as the bridge has been placed, and adapt to it very quickly. If you do feel any lingering pain, let us know as soon as possible. There may be a rough patch on the actual bridge that we can fix with a simple adjustment.
Caring for your dental bridge
Dental bridges offer a long-lasting solution for missing teeth, but they don’t last forever. In general, you can expect to replace your dental bridge every 5 to 15 years. To get the most out of your bridge, follow these simple maintenance tips.
Practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed.
To prevent damage to your bridge, like cracks or breaks, avoid chewing on crunchy or hard foods.
See your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. These visits also allow us to monitor your dental bridge for cracks or other issues.
What are the benefits of a dental bridge?
Dental bridges offer a number of benefits! This simple procedure creates a cosmetically appealing result by eliminating unsightly gaps and creating a more uniform smile. Replacing a missing tooth or teeth with a bridge can also eliminate any problems with biting and chewing when you eat. If your speech has been impacted by the loss of a tooth, filling the empty space with a dental bridge can correct that and allow you to speak normally again.
Find the smile you love again with Germantown Dental Group
Teeth are made to work together, so losing one is no laughing matter! The resulting gap can cause the nearby teeth to drift towards it, which can affect your bite and cause stress to the teeth and jaw joints. Teeth that have shifted can also be harder to clean, putting you at an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
For more than 40 years, our cosmetic dentists have been creating beautiful smiles for patients just like you! From restorative dentistry to comprehensive smile design and sedation dentistry, Germantown Dental Group offers a full range of options to help you find a smile you love again.
If you’ve been struggling with a missing tooth or teeth, get in touch today to schedule a visit with us! We also offer virtual exams, which you can find by clicking here.