If you have missing teeth or know you will have to get a tooth extraction in the future, you’re probably considering your tooth replacement options. A dental bridge is a common way to fill in the gap left behind by a missing tooth. A consultation with Steven C. Hewett, DDS, in Champions Gate, FL, can help you better understand your options. For now, let’s go over some common questions about tooth replacement.
How Long Does a Dental Bridge Last?
They Can Last for Over a Decade
A dental bridge can offer long-term results. Good care and regular dental visits can help extend the lifespan of your bridge by helping your gums and teeth stay healthy. During your routine visits, your bridge can be checked over to make sure it’s working well. Most patients can expect their bridge to last for a decade, but it’s not uncommon for a fixed bridge to last 15 years or longer.
What Is the Treatment Process Like?
When you start the process of getting a bridge, the first visit will be preparing the abutment teeth. Abutment teeth are the teeth that are positioned on either side of the gap you want to fill. A portion of enamel will be carefully removed from the abutment teeth, which allows them to be fit for a crown.
Impressions of these teeth will be taken to make sure the crowns and bridge will be a good fit. At this point you may receive a temporary bridge while your official one is being made in a dental lab. The second visit is usually when your official bridge will be put in place. It will be checked to ensure fit, comfort, and quality. Once it’s clear that everything looks good and functions well, you’ll be all set to go.
How To Protect Your Bridge
Good dental hygiene can go a long way in keeping your bridge healthy and functional. Infection can damage your gums or teeth, which may affect your dental bridge. Brushing your teeth twice a day is one of the easiest ways to protect your smile. You should brush gently, as scrubbing too hard could actually wear down your teeth or hurt your gums. Two minutes is a good time goal to aim for when you brush.
Floss is often overlooked, but patients who regularly floss know that even after thoroughly brushing, there are often food particles stuck between teeth. These particles can lead to plaque and decay, so a quick floss can save you a lot of trouble.
What Are Bridges Made From?
The materials used for bridges can vary. It’s often a combination of metal and either porcelain or ceramics. The metal provides strength and structure, while the porcelain or ceramics will make the bridge look just like the rest of your teeth. Some bridges can be made completely out of metal.
What Are the Benefits of This Treatment?
Restore Your Smile
Losing a tooth is upsetting for most patients. If the gap left behind is visible when they smile, that can make a patient feel self-conscious about smiling for pictures.
The thought of their missing tooth can make them feel uncomfortable during conversation as well, and may distract them from being able to enjoy social gatherings as much as they used to. A bridge can help you restore your smile and boost your confidence at the same time.
Help With Chewing
Even when the missing tooth isn’t in a readily visible area, it can still be an inconvenience. Gaps from missing teeth can make eating food with coarse or brittle texture painful if particles of food end up poking the unprotected area. It can also make chewing more difficult and frustrating if food particles are getting stuck. Restoring your smile can help restore its functionality.
Help With Speech
Teeth are surprisingly important for forming certain words and sounds. Depending on the location, losing a tooth can make speech more difficult. The patient may have more trouble speaking clearly, which can be a source of stress and embarrassment. Filling those gaps back in may help you in recovering your ability to pronounce words clearly.
Maintain Your Face Shape
Bridges can help prevent the face from looking sunken in certain areas, which can help your face look more full and youthful.
Help Correct or Maintain Your Bite
A properly aligned bite is pretty important. When your bite is thrown out of alignment, it can cause an uneven wearing of tooth enamel. It can also strain the face and jaw muscles. Straining these muscles can contribute to chronic pain and headaches. A bridge can help properly distribute the forces in your bite again.
Protect Your Other Teeth
When a tooth goes missing, it isn’t able to keep your other teeth in position anymore. After tooth loss, it’s very common for the remaining teeth to drift out of position.
Not only can this cause tooth alignment issues, but it can weaken the integrity of your other teeth. If your healthy teeth migrate too much, it can weaken their roots and put you at increased risk of further tooth loss. A bridge can quickly address this issue and keep your remaining teeth firmly in place.
Dental Implants as an Alternative
No Need To Alter Other Teeth
While bridges can certainly be a good option, there are other ways to correct missing teeth. As an alternative to bridges or wearing a removable prosthesis, our office can offer dental implants.
With our cutting-edge digital imaging technology, we can create 3D models that allow us to work with extreme precision. One of the best benefits of dental implants is that we will not have to modify your other teeth in order to carry out this treatment. None of your teeth will have to be shaved down. We can simply focus on replacing your missing tooth without making any changes to the rest of your smile.
Implants are a unique way to mimic the functionality of dental roots. Not only do they provide structure and stability for tooth replacements, but they can help protect the integrity of your jawbone. When a patient suffers tooth loss, jaw deterioration tends to quickly follow. That’s because the roots of our teeth play an important role in keeping our jaw stimulated and strong.
As the patient loses jawbone material, it can affect the shape of their face and lead to increased skin laxity and wrinkles throughout the face. A dental implant is able to fuse to the jaw, which can prevent further bone loss.
Designed To Last
The implant itself is a screw. They’re usually made of titanium, which is an extremely biocompatible material. Since these implants are able to fuse with the patient’s bone, they’re designed to last for the long run. While the artificial crowns on top of the implants may need to be replaced after a decade or so, the implant itself should remain firmly in place.
Enjoy Your Favorite Foods
Implants are sturdy enough to handle just about anything a regular tooth can. That means you should be able to eat corn on the cob and bite right into a delicious apple or steak. It’s an excellent option for patients who don’t want to give up their favorite foods after tooth loss.
Implants and Dentures
For patients who have dentures, implants can be used to secure them in place. This will allow the patient to do away with messy adhesives, and minimize irritating denture movement. The implants will also help your dentures remain a good fit. Bone loss that alters the shape of your jaw will eventually require that you get re-fitted for new dentures, but with implants protecting your jaw, you may be able to keep wearing them comfortably for longer.
For implant-supported dentures, multiple implants will be used to anchor the dentures securely. You will still be able to take your dentures out for cleaning, but the implants will be permanently in place, protecting your jaw.
Which Option Is Right for You?
Choosing between a dental bridge and an implant can be difficult. Finding the right treatment involves understanding a patient’s needs and long-term goals. We know how important it is to feel informed about your treatment options, which is why we offer consultations where you can ask your questions and get more information.
We’re Ready To Answer Your Questions
A consultation can help us better understand your needs and recommend treatments that we believe have the best chance of working for you. To learn more about how we can help you restore your smile, reach out to us at Steven C. Hewett, DDS, of Champions Gate, FL, today to get your consultation set up.