Missing teeth can cause complicated issues for patients—but there are a few reliable solutions we can utilize as dentists. At Germantown Dental Group, 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 restorative dental procedure employed by Dr. Whittemore and Dr. Gruen to address the gaps resulting from one or more missing teeth. This method involves the use of dental crowns, referred to as abutment teeth, which act as anchors for the bridge. Positioned between these crowns are false teeth, known as pontics, which effectively fill the spaces left by the missing teeth.
Various types of dental bridges exist, and the process typically involves multiple visits to our dental professionals. Let’s delve into the different options and procedures available in the field.
We aim to emphasize this variety as most dental professionals commonly utilize it. It combines the robustness of metal with the natural aesthetic of porcelain. With proper care, these bridges can last between five to fifteen years. Here are the key characteristics of this bridge type:
- Strength: The metal substructure, often composed of alloys such as gold, nickel, or chromium, contributes to enhanced strength. It is tailor-made to precisely fit your teeth.
- Aesthetics: The outer layer of porcelain is carefully matched to the color of your natural teeth, ensuring a seamless and natural look. It also reflects light in a manner similar to tooth enamel.
- Biocompatibility: Porcelain is generally compatible with gum tissues, leading to reduced irritation, minimal abrasion, and a lower likelihood of allergic reactions.
As you conduct your own research, you might come across alternative bridge types, and we’ll offer a brief description to help you differentiate between them.
- Cantilever Dental Bridge: Used when there’s only one tooth adjacent to the gap, this bridge has a pontic supported by a single dental crown on either side.
- Maryland (Resin-Bonded) Dental Bridge: Involves bonding a metal or porcelain framework to the backs of the abutment teeth, with the pontic attached to the framework. This type requires less enamel removal than a traditional bridge.
- Implant-Supported Dental Bridge: Unlike traditional bridges, this type doesn’t rely on natural teeth for support. Instead, it is anchored to dental implants surgically placed in the jawbone, providing a stable foundation.
- Removable Dental Bridge (Partial Denture): This bridge can be removed for cleaning purposes. It may feature 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 conduct a thorough assessment of your teeth and oral health, utilizing x-rays to evaluate the condition of your teeth and surrounding structures.
- Treatment Planning: Based on the assessments, we engage in detailed discussions with the patient about treatment options, materials, and the process associated with their chosen bridge option.
- Tooth Preparation: The teeth on either side of the gap (abutment teeth) undergo preparation by removing a portion of the enamel to create space for the crowns that will anchor the bridge. If dental implants are part of the plan, they will be placed first.
- Impressions: Molds of your teeth are taken to generate a precise model, considering bite and aesthetics.
- Temporary Bridge: An optional temporary bridge may be provided as a solution during the interval between impressions and fabrication. This can offer protection to exposed teeth while the permanent bridge is being crafted.
- Model Fabrication: In a dental lab, the impressions are utilized to craft models, taking into account bite and aesthetics during their creation.
- Bridge Fabrication: The actual bridge is custom-made to fit your anatomy, and any special materials required are incorporated during this stage.
- Fitting and Adjustments: Once the bridge is ready, you return to our office for one or more fittings. We assess it for comfort, fit, and appearance, making any necessary adjustments in-office.
- Permanent Placement: Upon mutual satisfaction with the final product, the bridge is permanently cemented in place for fixed bridges. If the bridge is removable, you will be provided with the appliance to take home.
It’s important to bear in mind that this process unfolds gradually and demands some patience. The duration can vary, contingent on the complexity of your individual situation. However, we are committed to keeping you informed at every stage of the process. The ultimate determinant of your appliance’s longevity rests on maintaining good oral hygiene, making it the crucial final step in ensuring the lasting effectiveness of your dental bridge.
Bridging the Gap
We understand that the information provided may seem like a lot, but our goal is to present it comprehensively, ensuring that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of a dental bridge. You can place your trust in our expert team to execute this procedure with excellence consistently. If you are considering this treatment option to address missing teeth, feel free to reach out to our Germantown office at (901) 754-0540. We are here to address any questions or concerns you may have!