Undoubtedly, a missing tooth or set of teeth can have a detrimental impact on the appearance of your smile. Apart from being a cosmetic problem, a missing tooth can cause other problems like bite issues.
If you are tired of removing your dentures every night before you sleep, or perhaps you need a more permanent solution for your missing tooth, a dental bridge could be the remedy to your problem. However, not every person is an excellent candidate for this dental treatment option. To know whether or not you are an ideal candidate for a dental bridge, you should speak with a dentist.
Gone are the days you could live with a missing or gapped tooth for the rest of your life due to limited solutions to fix your smile. Even if a dental bridge is not what you need to fix your missing tooth problem, your dentist can explore other treatment options, like a dental implant placement.
In this article, you will find more information about dental bridges and everything you need to determine whether this dental treatment option is ideal for you or not.
Dental Bridges at a Glance
Also commonly known as fixed partial dentures, a dental bridge is an appliance that consists of one or more artificial teeth (porcelain-made or resin-made) used to replace a missing tooth or set of teeth. As the name implies, a dental bridge will literally "bridge" or fill a gap caused by a missing tooth or set of teeth in your mouth to give you the aesthetically attractive smile you deserve.
Depending on your unique dental condition, your dentist could recommend the placement of any of the following types of dental bridges to improve your smile and restore your dental health:
- Traditional "fixed" dental bridges
- Maryland bridges
- Cantilever bridges
- Implant-supported bridges
A traditional or fixed dental bridge is the most common type among the above four main types of dental bridges. With a fixed dental bridge, your dentist will fix a false tooth "pontic" on either side of a dental crown, which is held in place by adjacent surrounding teeth, also known as abutment teeth.
If you do not have any available healthy teeth next to the gap, your dentist can attach the false tooth to a dental implant to restore your smile and dental health. Since it will only take two dental appointments to complete this procedure, having your missing tooth replaced by a dental bridge is a convenient treatment option you can rely on, especially if you need a quick smile makeover.
Signs or Indicators That You Need to Visit a Dentist for a Dental Bridge Placement
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, not every patient is an excellent candidate to have their missing teeth replaced with a dental bridge. Talking to your dentist is the only way to determine whether it will be beneficial to have your missing or several damaged teeth replaced with a dental bridge.
A dental bridge is an excellent and preferable solution to overcome most problems caused by missing teeth in your mouth. Apart from being a cosmetic problem, a missing tooth can cause severe dental health problems down the road, like malocclusion or bite issues.
A bite issue is a dental problem whereby your teeth in both jaws do not fit together or align naturally when your mouth is at rest. Since your teeth work and perform their functions together, if you have a missing tooth, the nearby surrounding teeth can shift their position in the mouth to fill this unoccupied space. When that happens, your teeth become misaligned, causing bite issues.
Below are some of the most common bite issues that people with a missing tooth or set of teeth can experience down the road if this gap is left unfixed:
- Overbite – As the name implies, an overbite occurs when your teeth in the upper jaw overlap the teeth in the lower jaw
- Underbite – An underbite happens when your front teeth in the lower jaw protrude and extends beyond the front teeth in the upper jaw
- Crowding – As the name suggests, teeth crowding occurs when you have insufficient space in your jaw to accommodate all your teeth, making them grow improperly
While bite problems are correctable by wearing braces, fixing your teeth gap or missing teeth using a dental bridge can prevent jaw or teeth shifting, which are the primary cause of these bite issues. To help maintain a proper bite and prevent other detrimental consequences of missing tooth or teeth, you should visit a dentist for dental bridge placement.
Generally speaking, you should visit your dentist for dental bridges if you have a missing tooth or teeth caused by:
While your teeth' enamel is heavily mineralized, making it the strongest body organ, it has its limits. If you experience blunt force on your face near the mouth area due to a car accident, fall, or injury from a sport, your tooth can fracture, chip, crack or break.
When you have a minor chip, your dentist can fix it through a dental treatment option known as dental bonding. However, if you have a deep crack that extends deep into the inner pulp section of the tooth, or perhaps the tooth roots are weak, a more extensive treatment method like extraction could be necessary to avoid other issues down the road.
Once the dentist extracts the tooth, he/she could recommend the placement of a dental implant or dental bridge to fill the gap and restore your teeth' functions. In most cases, your dentist will recommend a dental bridge because it is a less invasive procedure and can fill a gap caused by several missing teeth.
Severe Tooth Decay or Cavities
Another common dental issue that can leave you with a gap or missing teeth in your mouth, necessitating a dental bridge placement, is tooth decay. Also commonly known as caries, tooth decay occurs when your mouth bacteria form a sticky and yellowish layer or plaque on your teeth enamel.
Since this plaque creates a conducive environment for bacteria to thrive, you should speak with a dentist as soon as you notice any yellowish color on your teeth.
When you leave this condition untreated, acidic excrete from the bacteria that feed on this plaque will erode and demineralize your tooth, leaving tiny openings or holes on your enamel known as cavities. While tooth decay is not bothersome, when this condition progresses to the cavity level, you will likely experience the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity on the affected tooth, especially when you sip cold or warm drinks
- Your gums near the affected tooth will swell
- Sharp and spontaneous pain in the affected tooth
Fortunately, tooth decay or cavity is reversible, especially when detected early. Since tooth decay is often non-symptomatic, scheduling regular dental check-ups with your dentist is a brilliant idea to catch the problem during its early onset. The treatment method your dentist will choose will depend on the stage of the decay process.
When detected early, your dentist will recommend a treatment procedure known as a dental filling to cover the eroded parts of your enamel using a tooth-colored composite resin. However, if the cavity has reached the inner part of the tooth (pulp section), root canal therapy could be necessary to remove the infected pulp.
After removing the infected or dead pulp, your dentist will clean the cavity and fill it with composite resin to restore your tooth shape. To protect the already delicate and weakened tooth, your dentist will place a crown or tooth cap on it to give you a brighter smile and restore your tooth functions.
Unfortunately, in severe cases where the roots of the affected tooth are already weak beyond repair, your dentist will recommend removal or extraction of this tooth to fix the problem permanently.
Fortunately, you do not have to live with a gap between teeth after tooth extraction. With restorative dentistry procedures like dental bridge placement, your dentist can bridge or fill that gap to restore the chewing functions of your teeth and improve the beauty of your smile.
Also known as hypodontia, agenesis is another cause of a missing tooth or a set of teeth among most people. Agenesis is a common human dentition anomaly, usually characterized by the congenital absence of one or more teeth (excluding the third molars) caused by an inherited malfunction of the lower and upper jawbone (mandible).
Diagnosis of agenesis requires thorough radiographic and clinical examination. Unusual spacing in your teeth could also be a sign or indicator of tooth agenesis. Hence it is advisable to introduce your child to regular oral and dental check-ups from a young age to catch emerging problems on time for appropriate treatment.
When this condition is detected early, your dentist could recommend dental bridge placement to lessen its potential negative impacts on your teeth alignment down the road, especially if you have several missing teeth in your mouth.
Apart from keeping teeth alignment issues at bay, bridging the gap caused by agenesis with a dental bridge can also improve your speech and the aesthetic appearance of your smile.
Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a severe gum infection that starts with mild inflammation of your gums. During the onset of this infection, your gums pull away or recede from your teeth, creating "pockets" between the teeth and gums.
When left untreated, this infection can weaken your tooth roots and the bone that supports your teeth, leading to tooth loss. While it is a common oral health issue, this infection is preventable, primarily by proper oral hygiene and frequent dental check-ups.
Since other treatment options like dental implant placement are ideal when a patient has healthy gums, your dentist will recommend dental bridge placement if you have a missing tooth caused by periodontitis. Having your missing teeth replaced by a dental bridge can also promote fast healing of this gum infection.
Other Factors That Could Make You an Ideal Candidate for Dental Bridges
Below are other signs that a dental bridge will be beneficial to your situation instead of a dental implant or dentures:
You are a Diabetic Individual
Generally speaking, dental implants fixed on diabetic people are more prone to early or premature failure than those fixed on non-diabetic patients due to the slow healing of the implant site and the high chances of wound infection. For that reason, a dental bridge is an effective remedy for diabetic patients who want a quick solution for their missing teeth.
You are on Certain Medications
If you are currently taking certain medications, which can slow the healing rate after dental implant placement, you should go for dental bridges to fix your missing teeth problem. Here are examples of some of the medications that can cause implant failure:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to control anxiety and depression
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) commonly used to control heartburn
You Smoke Cigarette
According to research studies, nearly 20 percent of all dental implants fixed on patients who smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products fail prematurely. One of the main reasons is that cigarette smoking cuts the blood supply to your gum tissues, leading to slow healing of the dental implant surgical site.
Fortunately, for dental bridge placement, no wounds that must heal will be necessary, meaning cigarette smoking is unlikely to affect the firmness of the dental bridge.
You Can Perform Thorough or Proper Oral and Dental Hygiene
Finally, you would make an ideal candidate for a dental bridge placement if you could perform proper dental and oral hygiene to maintain and protect the condition of your bridges. Since a dental bridge is permanent, proper care and maintenance are necessary to increase its durability. That means you should brush and floss them at least twice daily as if they are natural teeth.
Regular dental visits are vital if you want your dental bridge to last for the longest time. Your dental bridges can last for up to seven years, or a decade with proper care.
Find a Dentist Near Me
Are you considering replacing your missing teeth or tooth with a dental bridge in the city of Los Angeles, Torrance, Carson, or Lomita?
Our seasoned dentists at Washington Dental are here for you. We can help you restore or improve the appearance of your smile and the overall functions of your teeth using dental bridges.
Since not everyone is an excellent candidate for this restorative dentistry treatment procedure, speaking with a dentist is a wise idea to know whether or not a dental bridge can be a remedy for your unique problem.