Losing a tooth or teeth can be very traumatic and cause us to “lose our smiles.” Maybe you have had an accident, trauma, or you needed to have a tooth removed because of inflammation, root canal failure, a cracked tooth or irreparable damage. Whatever the reason, the result is the same.
In the past, a gap in your teeth was something you simply had to live with, but these days there are numerous options to solve this problem. One possibility is dental bridges, which can be a cost-effective way to get your smile back.
What are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge uses the surrounding teeth as a base for a false tooth to fill the gap left by the old tooth. Crowns are put on the two teeth next to the gap to provide the support for the new tooth.
How this procedure is done and what materials are used depends on numerous factors such as:
- The level of damage
- Number of teeth missing
- Position of missing teeth
- The available budget for the patient
Why Should I Have a Dental Bridge?
When you have a tooth extracted, a gap will be left in the dentition/gums, causing the existing teeth to drift into space. This can lead to a bad bite, as well as potentially leading to gum, periodontal and jaw problems.
Types of Bridges
There are a few different ways a bridge can be fitted, and, as mentioned above, this will depend on where the damaged teeth are and the health of the surrounding teeth.
Fixed bridges are the most common type of dental bridge and are usually a cost-effective option for repairing a missing tooth issue. In the case of a single missing tooth, the two teeth on either side of the space will be crowned and used as anchors for the new artificial tooth (pontic). The bridge is designed to fit as naturally as possible and spread out the biting forces in your mouth so that your smile is maintained and your ability to chew and eat isn’t diminished. Other types of dental bridges include Cantilever bridges, which involve placing an oversized crown in a space where there is only one anchor tooth or Removable bridges that may be used to temporarily hold a space post-surgically while tissues are healing, or to hold the space until the patient can afford the desired treatment option. Bridges can also be placed from implant to implant, therefore minimizing the number of implants needed to repair an area.
There are a variety of options regarding materials, with metal being the cheapest. However, many people will want to opt for ceramic finishes, as they look more natural. Whatever option is chosen, bridges are a durable replacement, and if they are well cared for, they should last minimally for five years, and 20-30 years is not unusual.
In recent years, dental implants have been increasingly used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants involve placing a titanium “pin” in the gum, to which a crown is then attached.
There are many advantages to dental implants concerning the look and feel and overall durability, but they are significantly more expensive than dental bridges. On the other hand, for patients missing numerous teeth, implants can prove a cost-effective option if they are used as anchors for the bridge, instead of installing individual implants.
If you need to have a tooth extracted, your dentist will go over the available options with you and find the best solution to get your smile back as soon as possible.