Missing teeth can have a terrible effect on both a patient’s personal confidence, and their oral health. It can be hard to chew, smile and even speak when you have lost a tooth. Not to mention, a missing tooth can cause your other teeth to shift. This poses an orthodontic problem if the gap is not properly filled.
Tooth loss is nothing to be concerned about, it is common in adults. And it can happen for many different reasons:
- Addiction or drug abuse
- Improper oral care
Whatever the reason for tooth loss, your dentist is able to fill the space in your smile. This has many benefits:
- Increased confidence
- Improved oral health
- Prevents tooth shifting and orthodontic problems
- Improved quality of life
- Maintain the shape of your jaw and face
- Ability to speak, eat and smile “like normal”
Dental bridges are an excellent option when you and your dentist are discussing treatments for your missing tooth/teeth.
Don’t let missing teeth and gaps in your smile hold you back, there are many things that you can do to rectify the situation. Learn about how dental bridges can benefit you.
What Are Dental Bridges?
Start with the basics, what are dental bridges? Dental bridges fall into a category of dental procedures called “restorative dentistry.”
This type of dental practice is closely related to cosmetic dentistry. It focuses mainly on repairing a person’s smile, after injury, illness or trauma. Restorative dental care incorporates orthodontics to perfectly fit new teeth to your bite.
Some common restorative dental procedures include:
- Dental Bridges
- Fillings and crowns
- Dental Bonding
- Braces or Invisalign
Restorative procedures can be combined with cosmetic services. Restorative dental care encompasses most dental procedures when they are used to return the mouth to a functional state, after injury or infection.
Dental bridges are one option you can explore when you are wondering about which restorative dental treatment is right for you. Your procedure will depend on your specific circumstances.
Dental bridges are permanent, prosthetic sets of teeth that can be installed in your mouth. They will give you a fully functional bite that allows you to eat, drink, smile and talk like you normally would.
They are color matched specifically to your teeth, and fitted perfectly to your bite and smile. They look and feel like real teeth and they do not have to be removed like dentures.
How Do Dental Bridges Work?
Bridges are attached permanently to your surrounding teeth. They are used to “bridge” the gap between teeth, if one, or several have gone missing.
A dental bridge contains two crown-like structures, and dental implants in between the crowns. Your neighbouring teeth are filed down and fitted to size with the bridges.
They act as two anchors that allow the tooth in the middle (the missing space that will be filled) to sit comfortably and permanently within your gums, held in place by the neighbouring anchor teeth.
Different Types of Bridges
Bridges are a life changing decision, so it is important to know the different options you have when it comes to getting bridges.
There are two main types of dental bridges:
Traditional bridges are excellent options for when you are only missing one or two teeth. These bridges can fill the gap in your mouth with an artificial tooth that is attached to two crowns.
The healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth are filed down and fitted with crowns. There is an artificial tooth in the centre of the two crowns. They are fused together. The crowns are attached permanently to the artificial tooth, holding it safely in place.
Do you have a row of several teeth missing? It is difficult to add traditional bridges if there are only a few teeth left in your mouth. These teeth will be stressed and will not make for very good anchors. When this is the case, implant bridges are required.
Implant bridges look and feel just like traditional bridges, however they require a minimum of two dental implants to hold them in place. As opposed to your natural teeth.
Implant bridges require slightly more work. Your dentist will have to drill into your jaw and insert dental implants. The amount of implants will be determined with orthodontic testing.
Your dentist will need to evenly space the weight of the bridges on the jaw, so 2-4 implants are often needed to disperse the weight, and to ensure that the bridge is permanently in place.
Your dentist will create anchor teeth by inserting implant screws into your jaw, through your gums. The dental screw is the base of the dental implant and is comparable to the root of a natural tooth. It will hold the bridges permanently in place.
The crowns of the bridge are then fused into place atop the dental implants. The artificial teeth sit comfortably melded to the crowns and can fill your entire mouth with a new set of fully functional teeth.
Who Can Benefit From Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are for those who have one or several missing teeth. Dental implants are also an option in this situation. However, bridges work well in circumstances where there are many teeth missing.
They are effective and can change the way you eat, speak and smile, immediately. Dental bridges used to be the only permanent option for tooth replacement. They have a long history of success.
Bridges are effective in any situation where there is tooth loss, they are perfect for those concerned with the aesthetics of a missing tooth. With bridges you will have the full functions of your mouth.
What Is The Procedure? How Are Bridges Installed?
The process of getting dental bridges is fairly simple. Dental bridges look and feel like regular teeth. The process can take a long time, despite being straightforward, and it will often require three or more visits to the dentist.
The First Appointment for Traditional Bridges
In your first appointment, your dentist will prepare your anchor teeth for crowns. The teeth that will support the crowns will then be filed and fitted to fit under the crown.
Impressions of your teeth are made after the two teeth that will support the crowns have been filed down. The molds of your teeth are necessary so that they fit the crowns perfectly. The impressions give the dental lab the information they need to be able to make the bridges a perfect fit.
At the end of your first appointment, the dentist will give you a temporary bridge to wear while the real one is being made.
This bridge is fragile and not permanent, so you must be careful and gentle with it while your bridges are being made. The temporary bridges are needed to protect the exposed teeth that have been filed down for crowns.
The Second Visit for Traditional Bridges
Your permanent bridge is ready for your second visit, after the impressions have been made and processed. In this appointment, the temporary bridges are removed and the real bridge is applied.
You will test the permanent bridge for it’s fit and feel in your mouth. This is the exciting part of the appointment because you can see what your smile will look like.
A proper fit is essential, so there may be multiple appointments needed to get the bridges to fit just right. If you want to test the fit out outside of the dentist’s office, your dentist can apply a temporary adhesive and you can try the bridge out for a period of time.
If the patient feels the bridge fits well, it can be applied permanently in the second appointment. If not there will be a third appointment needed to permanently attach the bridges.
The process for implant bridges is slightly more complex:
The First Appointment for Implant Bridges
Your dentist will fully examine your mouth in the first consultation, they will take x-rays of your mouth. They will take impressions of your gums and the teeth that remain in your mouth.
These impressions and x-rays are needed to determine the placement and fit of the implants and bridges along the jaw.
Your dentist will observe the structure of your jaw bone and will look for any sign of bone loss. In patients that have gone for a long time without a large amount of their teeth, the jaw bone can degenerate, without the weight of teeth sitting on top.
This can create a sunken appearance in your facial features. If your dentist suspects that there is bone loss in your jaw, they may ask that you have a CT scan done as well before the bridges can be made.
You can still get dental bridges if there is bone loss in your jaw. It will require bone grafting procedures to be done beforehand. You can discuss this further with your dentist.
The Second Appointment for Implant Bridges
The second appointment is when your dentist will install your dental implants. This will require a small surgery where your dentist drills the base of the implants into your jaw. These implants will act as the anchor teeth and supports for your bridges.
The amount and placement of implants will be determined by the x-rays, imprints and CT scan, to ensure the mouth is well balanced and secure.
It will be a few months until you can have your final bridging surgery, because your mouth will need time to heal after the implants are put in place.
The Third Appointment for Implant Bridges
Once the implants have successfully healed, and sit securely on your jaw bone, you can come in for your third appointment.
New x-rays are taken to ensure the implants sit naturally in your mouth. The gums above the implants will be gently cut and pulled to either side, to reveal the head of the implant.
This creates a natural looking gum line for your bridges. Your mouth will be left for a few weeks so that the gums can heal in place.
The Fourth Appointment for Implant Bridges
During this appointment, your dentist will take impressions of your healed mouth. A temporary bridge is then installed. You can get used to the look and feel of bridges while your real bridges are being crafted in the lab.
The Final Appointment for Implant Bridges
Your permanent bridges are finally ready for installation. Your temporary bridges will be removed in this appointment.
You can get the feel of your new permanent teeth. Your dentist may apply a temporary adhesive so you can wear your new bridges at home.
You can test them out while eating, talking and smiling to be sure they are a good fit. If they fit your mouth well, they will be permanently installed. Let your dentist know if they do not fit or feel good in your mouth. Adjustments can be made!
How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?
Dental bridges are permanent fixtures in your mouth, they’re bonded to your teeth. They have a lifespan of around 10 years. If they are well cared for they can last between 10-15 years.
They are permanently bonded to your teeth so they will not fall out or break. They are most frequently made out of ceramics or porcelain fused to metal.
These materials are extremely strong and it is rare that they break. However it is important to take proper care of your bridges so that they will last for a long time.
How to Care for Your Dental Bridges
If you keep up with a regular oral health regime your bridges will last longer and your mouth will be healthy. Brush your teeth twice per day and floss as you normally would.
Dental bridges require that you floss under them using a floss threader. The most common area where problems start are under the bridge. Make sure your dentist or hygienist shows you how to properly floss under your bridge after it is installed.
It is essential to keep up with a proper oral health regime when you have bridges because you want to ensure that your anchor teeth that support the bridges are in good health. Visit the dentist a minimum of twice per year for you regular cleanings.
How Much Do Dental Bridges Cost?
Bridges are a cost effective solution for your missing teeth. They are often compared to implants when it comes to pricing.
Your dental insurance will often pay for a portion of your bridges as it is a restorative procedure. LA Dental Clinic has an in house insurance policy if you or a family member isn’t covered.
Bridges can cost between $500-$1000 per artificial tooth. The cost of bridges will depend on a variety of individual factors. But in general, the more teeth there are that need to be replaced, the more it will cost.
Come On In!
If you are thinking about getting dental bridges, or if you have any questions about the process, call or come in to LA Dental Clinic. Our experienced staff will be happy to explain anything further and you can get started on the path to your perfect smile!