A dental bridge is effective for closing the space between teeth following tooth loss due to trauma or infection. The primary aim dentists have is to ensure their patients have healthy and good-looking smiles; when a smile is damaged, dentists will work to restore the appearance and function of teeth. One of the added benefits of replacing lost teeth is that it will preserve the alignment of teeth, preventing them from moving out of position.
Tooth loss and dental alignment
Even if you are missing only one tooth, the impact can go beyond just appearance and seriously affect your oral health. Teeth depend on each other to stay in alignment, good health and support. When one tooth is lost, the remaining teeth bear the entire bite force.
Regardless of the cause of tooth loss—whether it is gum disease, severe tooth decay or trauma—the remaining teeth will start to shift and move into the openings left by lost teeth with regular usage. This can make eating and speaking a bit difficult.
Patients need to work closely with the dentist to determine the most effective option to replace their lost teeth. Replacing lost teeth is necessary to prevent remaining teeth from moving out of alignment or becoming damaged due to undue pressure. While restoring the full function of teeth, tooth replacement will also maintain the appearance of the smile. A dental bridge can maintain the natural spacing between the teeth to preserve the alignment of the teeth.
A dental bridge is made of one or more replacement teeth connected to crown laden anchor teeth—natural teeth next to the tooth gap. These nearby teeth serve as supports for the prosthetic teeth. Bridges are an economical and affordable tooth replacement method.
How a dental bridge works
Bridges consist of three components: 1) two crowns, which are placed on the natural teeth sitting on either side of the gap and hold the tooth replacement in place; 2) the center piece, which looks like a natural tooth—called the pontic—and can be made of metal or porcelain; 3) the base, which is generally made of metal.
Bridges may have more than one artificial tooth, although a bridge is commonly recommended after one tooth is lost. Properly made bridges can appear and function like natural teeth. A dentist will fabricate the bridge specifically for a patient’s bite using dental impressions. Once in place, the artificial tooth will barely be distinguishable from the rest of the teeth.
With proper maintenance, a bridge can provide up to 15 years of use. Maintaining regular oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and going for routine dental checkups twice a year, can help prevent issues with bridges.
Like any dental problem, the complications that occur from missing teeth are progressive. The longer one waits to replace a missing tooth, the more the remaining natural teeth shift out of alignment and deteriorate from uneven bite pressure. If you have lost a tooth or recently had one removed, you should talk to a dentist as soon as possible to have it replaced with a custom-made dental bridge.
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