Has your dentist recommended a dental bridge? If so, you may have questions. If you have a missing tooth, a dental bridge can control the movement of your adjacent teeth. A bridge will also correct your bite, provide comfort when chewing, and help to maintain your face shape.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a dental device that replaces a missing tooth (or teeth). Dental bridges come in two types:
- A permanent or fixed bridge is cemented to prepared natural teeth on either side of the open space.
- A removable bridge attaches to the natural teeth on either side of the space. You can put in and remove a removal bridge. False teeth are mounted to the base of the bridge to fill the opening left by missing teeth. This is sometimes called a partial denture.
Why do I Need a Bridge?
Your teeth are made to work as a team. If one tooth is missing, the surrounding teeth may shift into the open space. And, depending on where the space is located, the teeth above or below the opening may shift up or down. This can cause tooth misalignment, which can:
- Affect your ability to chew and eat.
- Place stress on your teeth and jaw.
- Cause pain.
- Make your teeth more difficult to clean.
Teeth play a critical role in maintaining your face shape. When you have a missing tooth, the underlying bone may shrink. This can change the way the jawbone supports the cheek and lips. Over time, the shape of your face may change, altering your appearance.
Advantages of a Dental Bridge
- Enhances your ability to speak clearly and to eat comfortably.
- Helps to maintain the shape of your face.
- Is usually small and lightweight.
- Controls the shifting and moving of adjacent teeth.
- Is easy and comfortable to wear.
What are Dental Bridges Made of?
Removable bridges usually consist of an acrylic base with metal clasps or a frame. Permanent or fixed bridges are usually made of metal, ceramics, or a combination of both materials. Ceramic materials are usually bonded to a metal alloy.
If you have additional questions about a dental bridge, talk with your dentist.
Is Getting a Dental Bridge Painful?
Your comfort is important to your dentist. Tell your dentist about any concerns you have before the procedure.
Getting a bridge is a virtually painless process. Prior to the procedure, the dentist will numb the teeth and the surrounding gum tissue with a local anesthetic. Your mouth may feel slightly uncomfortable for a few days after the procedure. Your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate any soreness or discomfort.
It's usually easy to get used to and feel comfortable with a dental bridge.
What to Expect When you get a Dental Bridge
Placing a bridge usually takes two or more visits. The dentist may apply a topical anesthetic to partially numb the gum tissue. The dentist then uses a local anesthetic to numb the area. Then, the dentist will reshape and prepare the teeth adjacent to the opening. This is so the dental crowns which support the bridge, will fit snugly over them. An impression of the open space of the prepared teeth around it is made. The impression is sent to a dental lab that will make your dental bridge. While the lab develops your dental bridge, your dentist will place a temporary bridge in your mouth that you will wear until your new bridge is ready, which usually takes a few weeks.
When your dental bridge arrives at the dental office, the dentist will remove the temporary bridge and place the new bridge, testing and adjusting the bridge for a proper fit as necessary. Let your dentist know if your mouth feels sore after getting a bridge. A follow-up visit may be required so the dentist can further adjust the bridge for a comfortable bite. A bridge is one solution to replacing a missing tooth. Discuss the treatment options available with your dentist.