Tooth loss is always an unfortunate situation. The loss of teeth can affect the way a person speaks, chews food, and cause other teeth to move out of proper alignment. When tooth loss occurs there are several options a person has for replacing the missing tooth and stabilizing the bite.
Dental Bridge Options: ⇓
A fixed bridge is a mini prosthetic which replaces the part of the human body that is missing, the tooth or teeth. Bridges are connected to either dental implants or other teeth. Bridges are permanently attached to the supporting teeth or implants with either cement or screws.
Removable partial dentures are attached to teeth through metal clasping or precision attachments to crowns. A removable metal framework has the multiple missing teeth attached to it and the whole prosthesis comes in and out of the mouth.
Dental implants also can bridge spaces where teeth are missing. Single tooth or multiple unit prosthesis can be made and permanently inserted. Many times this is the ideal or optimal treatment as it allows tooth replacement without having to rely on adjacent teeth for support. Dental implant restoration is also the only restoration which will preserve the underlying foundational bone in the site of the missing tooth.
The best options for your individual situation will be evaluated and discussed with Dr. Mengedoth.
Why are dental bridges necessary? ⇓
Function and appearance are the primary reasons for fabricating bridges.
Tooth loss can lead to a decreased ability to chew your food, which in turn either causes people to change their diet to easier to chew foods, or just to swallow their food whole or only partially broken down. Both of these cause problems with systemic and overall health and well being.
The loss of teeth can also be a problem with appearance. Even the loss of back teeth which we may not see directly in the smile can cause lip and cheek support to collapse leading to an aged facial appearance.
Choosing not to replace a missing tooth also has functional consequences to the other teeth in the mouth. When one tooth is removed, the adjacent or the opposing teeth often slowly drift into the space causing another decrease in function. This many times leads to fracture and breakage of the tipped teeth as well. Teeth were designed to work with one another, so when one is removed the remaining teeth have more pressure applied to them. Increased wear, cracks and additional tooth loss are consequences.
Speech is also affected when teeth are removed. Our teeth are positioned in a way which allows us to enunciate and articulate words during communication. When they are removed, many of the sounds are more difficult and sometimes impossible to properly make.
How many visits? ⇓
The process of fabricating a bridge is similar to making a single dental crown. Three appointments are necessary for the proper fabrication. At the first appointment, Dr. Mengedoth shapes the teeth involved with supporting the bridge by removing a measured portion of enamel and dentin from the teeth. Impressions of the teeth are taken and are sent along with other records to the off site dental lab where the understructure or bridge framework is made. A temporary bridge is placed for use during the fabrication of the permanent custom bridge. Two weeks after the initial appointment, Dr. Mengedoth has the patient back for a try-in of the framework and to take additional records prior to the porcelain being stacked on the framework. Two weeks later we deliver and cement the permanent bridge.
Is it difficult to determine how long a dental bridge will last? ⇓
Most bridges fail due to not being properly cleaned and maintained, or due to the bite not being taken into consideration prior to tooth replacement. If a patient commits to optimal home maintenance, bridges can last decades. Unfortunately, due to lack of compliance and poorly placed bridges the average life span is 5 to 7 years. By doing a comprehensive evaluation of each patient’s bite, and properly diagnosing the most optimal replacement option for that individual the longevity is extended dramatically.