A gap between your teeth does a lot more than just preventing you from smiling in public. It can lead to oral problems such as bite issues, decreased chewing/talking ability, TMJ disorder and more. When this occurs, Dr. Sarkis Aznavour recommends the use of a dental bridge to replace one or more missing teeth or to restore teeth from severe damage.
What are Tooth Bridges?
A tooth bridge is a type of dental prosthesis that bridges the gap created when one or more teeth are missing. A bridge comprises of two or more dental crowns on both sides of the gap (called abutment teeth) and an artificial tooth/teeth in between (known as pontics) to restore your smile’s function and appearance. Natural teeth or implants support dental bridges. Bridges can last over ten years and sometimes more, even a lifetime, with proper oral hygiene care and regular professional cleaning. However, they might need replacement due to daily wear.
What are dental bridges used for?
The dental bridges are used for any of the following:
- Fill gaps from missing teeth
- Preserve the facial shape
- Prevent teeth from shifting out of position
- Prevent the development of TMJ disorder
- Correct bite issues
- Restore the ability to chew and speak properly
- Restore the function of your smile
- Replace the removable partial denture with a permanent oral appliance
Who is a candidate for fixed bridges?
It depends on your oral health, budget and whether you want to receive prolonged or more complicated dental procedures. It's important to schedule an appointment with our Santa Clarita dentist to provide further information and to undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you're a candidate for fixed bridges.
Types of dental bridges
There are four types of bridges:
Traditional bridges are the most popular restorative dentistry option for missing teeth and are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. The crown is created for the for the teeth or implants on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic in between.
Cantilever bridges are used when there are only adjacent teeth on one side of the missing teeth, usually at the back of the mouth. This type of bridge is not used very often anymore since the restorations are only supported on one side, which may lead to complications like fractured teeth or loose crowns.
Maryland-Bonded bridges involve pontics that are held in place by a metal or porcelain framework and are attached to the existing teeth on opposite sides of the missing teeth, via wings on the bridge. Since the strength of the bridge is limited by the strength of the resin that holds it in place, Maryland-Bonded bridges have disadvantages. The bridge may shift out of position in areas of the mouth where there is a lot of biting force — like the molars, and also, the framework may move out of place from your gums or your bite.
Implant-supported bridges are similar to a regular dental bridge but are supported by implants instead of natural teeth. In most cases, an implant-supported bridge is used when you have more than one missing tooth. The process starts with the placement of one implant into the jawbone for every lost tooth. Then, the crowns are bonded to each other to form one piece. Two surgeries are required to place the implant-supported bridge – the first to place the implants and the second to place the bridge – and it may take at least five months to get the bridge finished.
How many visits does it take for a dental bridge?
In general, getting a dental bridge requires two or more visits. During the first visit, our Santa Clarita dentist will prepare the abutment teeth by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for the crown to be placed. Then, he will make an impression of the area to be fitted with the bridge which will be sent to a dental laboratory for mold fabrication. Meanwhile, you will wear a temporary bridge made by our dentist to protect the exposed teeth and gums. On the second visit, which can be several weeks later, the new dental bridge will be checked, adjusted and cemented until it's properly fitted. Follow up visits to the dentist may be necessary for additional fittings, or if you still feel your bite is not corrected.
Bridges vs. Crowns vs. Dental Implants
Bridges, crowns, and dental implants are all dental solutions to replace one or more missing teeth. Each procedure offers benefits and downsides as summarised below. However, the final decision depends on the patient’s budget, goals, lifestyle and time. It is highly recommended that you to have a consultation with Dr. Sarkis Aznavour, our dentist in Santa Clarita, to determine which is right for you.
Other than that, here are some general considerations to take into account with regards to the three procedures:
A dental bridge uses a prosthetic tooth with two adjacent teeth to fill in the area left vacant by missing teeth. The gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to drift towards the gap in an attempt to fill the empty space, resulting in a bad bite. A bridge comprises of two or more dental crowns on both sides of the gap (called abutment teeth) and an artificial tooth/teeth in between (known as pontics) to restore the symmetry and the natural-looking appearance of your smile and teeth.
The process to install dental bridges usually takes at least two dental visits. During the first visit, our dentist will take the impression of your teeth and make a mold to send it to a dental laboratory that will fabricate the bridge. During the second visit, our dentist will place and fit the bridge and then cement it into place. Follow-up visits may be necessary for additional fittings or if you still feel your bite is not corrected. Bridges can last over ten years and sometimes more, even a lifetime, with proper oral hygiene care and regular professional cleaning. This option is less expensive than replacing each tooth with an individual implant.
Dental crowns are a restoration procedure done by our Santa Clarita dentist to cover a tooth that is damaged or badly-broken. The crown is made in a laboratory through an impression to fit over the tooth structure. Then, our dentist cements the crown in place and covers it. The crown can be matched to the color of the natural teeth and as a result, restore the tooth to its original appearance and prevent further damage or decay.
The process to install dental crowns usually takes two separate dental visits, around two weeks apart depending on whether adjustments to the fitting are needed or if you are having complications. Crowns can last between 15 and 20 years, but just like a normal tooth, they need extra care to prevent them from loosening or falling-out. It’s vital to ensure the longevity of your crown by practicing good oral hygiene.
To replace one or more missing teeth, dental implants are used to place teeth made from prosthetics directly into your jawbone. The dental prosthesis can be a crown, a bridge or a removable denture.
Implants require surgery and are more expensive than a bridge fitted over existing teeth. This treatment takes several months, as the implant needs time to settle and fuse with the bone before the abutment and crown are attached. Good oral hygiene must take place before, during, and after the placement of dental implants to ensure the health and durability of the implant. The result is having strong, permanent teeth that will look and feel completely natural for a lifetime.
If you think you may need a dental bridge, call (661)210-4280 to schedule an appointment at our dental practice located at 24242 Lyons Avenue in the Santa Clarita, CA area. Our professional dental team at Healthy Smiles Dental will be able to determine if you are a candidate for a dental bridge and to answer any questions you may have. We are always striving to deliver the best dental care possible to our patients.
Related articles about bridges