In addition to hurting your self-confidence, missing teeth can bring on a multitude of problems, from difficulty speaking normally to difficulty eating and poor nutrition. Luckily, the science of dental medicine has several excellent ways of replacing lost teeth. One of the most simple and well established methods is the dental bridge. Dr. Benjamin Stevens at Beautiful Smiles in Greenwood IN wants to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a healthy smile.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (an artificial replacement part) that fills up the space left by a missing tooth and is supported on the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy adjacent teeth are called abutments. These abutments support the pontic on either side, with the pontic crossing the empty space in your teeth like a bridge.

The teeth that will form the abutment must be altered to support the bridge. To do this, the abutment teeth must be crowned or “capped.” This is done exactly as if the teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage.

First, their enamel is removed, creating enough space for the crown to be placed over and completely cover them without looking overly large. The crowns on the abutment teeth will support the false tooth (pontic) in between. The pontic is really just another crown but without a tooth living underneath.

Building a Bridge

As detailed above, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge will need three dental crowns to replace it: two to cover the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between. This configuration is known as a three-unit bridge.

The more teeth are missing, the more crowns (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to create the bridge. Your dentist must consider a few variables when making this calculation: the number of teeth missing, the size, length and stability of the abutment tooth roots, and also the location in the mouth the teeth were lost.

So if you are missing three teeth, it may be necessary to use 4 teeth as abutments, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing the bridge requires an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to actually conduct the procedure.

What to Expect

Getting bridgework completed usually requires two sittings in the dentist’s chair. At the first visit, you will be give a local anesthetic and your abutment teeth will be prepped as described above. Molds of your teeth will be taken to create three-dimensional models of your teeth which will be used to construct the crowns. A temporary bridge will be set in place before you leave this first visit.

When your permanent bridge is ready, you will have your second visit in which it will be permanently placed. It will take some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks. But you will eventually come to accept it as just another part of your own teeth.

Caring for your Bridge

Crowned teeth require the same routine care as your other teeth. You need to brush twice daily and floss every day to prevent the build-up of dental plaque. And it’s even more important to  schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge. A well-cared-for bridge to last for a long time with proper care.

Dental Bridges in Greenwood, IN

If you are in the Greenwood IN area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with a skilled professional dentist or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (317) 886-4512 or schedule online with Dr. Stevens at Beautiful Smiles today.