A dental bridge is a highly effective dental treatment used in cosmetic dentistry to correct one of life's oldest and most vexing dental problems: how to live a normal life with missing teeth. Anyone who has experienced tooth loss knows that few things impact your appearance, self-esteem and overall health as directly as an unpleasant gap in your teeth. Missing teeth do more than just ruin your smile. They can affect virtually every aspect of your life from how you eat and the way you speak to the very shape of your face. In many ways, dental bridges represent the perfect solution for people challenged by missing teeth.
Today's state-of-the-art dental bridges are based on an old idea that's gotten exponentially better over the years. The first dental bridge appeared over 2600 years ago in northern Italy according to Marshall Joseph Becker's seminal work "The Valsiarosa Gold Dental Appliance." Since then, cosmetic dentists have developed a variety of methods to replace missing teeth. The most common used today include removable appliances, dental implants and the old standby: fixed dental bridges. Of these corrective treatments, the dental bridge is still preferred by many patients and dentists because this approach offers a reliable, natural-appearing "permanent" fix at an affordable price.
What Exactly Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth, or pontic, that literally "bridges" the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth. Unlike dentures which are removable, dental bridges are permanently fused to dental crown-covered abutments (e.g. natural teeth, dental implants or a combination of the two) on either side of the gap. The typical dental bridge consists of a porcelain or ceramic-covered metal substructure. The covering can be matched to the natural coloring of your teeth, making dental bridges an ideal choice for people interested in an undetectable dental restoration.
Types of Dental Bridges
There are three categories of dental bridges:
Traditional Dental Bridge -- This is the most common style of tooth bridge used today. As previously outlined, a traditional dental bridge involves creating a dental restoration consisting of dental crowns for the teeth or implants on either side of the gap and a pontic to replace the missing tooth. The pontic is held in place once the crowns are permanently affixed to the supporting teeth or implants.
Cantilever Dental Bridge -- This type of tooth bridge is used when there are teeth on only one side of the gap in the mouth. It's a more challenging restoration, as it requires fusing two crowns to one side of the pontic and then attaching the appliance to the two contiguous teeth abutting the gap.
Maryland Dental Bridge -- Typically less expensive than traditional dental bridges, a Maryland dental bridge consists of plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal framework. The appliance is held in place by metal wings which are bonded to teeth on either side of the gap.
A Great Fit Is Essential with a Dental Teeth Bridge
Getting fitted for a dental bridge typically requires two sessions with a dentist or a cosmetic dentist. During the first meeting, your dentist will remove a small portion of the teeth on either side of the gap. This is to create space to accommodate the new tooth bridge. Next, the dentist will take an impression of your bite and prepare your abutment teeth for crowns. New impressions are then taken. These will be used by a certified dental technician to create your dental bridge. During your second dental visit, your dentist will make final adjustments to ensure a perfect fit before cementing the dental bridge in place.
You'll find a dental bridge can improve your quality of life almost instantly. Getting used to living with a tooth bridge doesn't' take long; however, it's not unusual to experience some tooth sensitivity for several weeks after having a dental bridge procedure.
How Long Will a Dental Bridge Last?
Dental bridges are precision-made restorations. With proper care, you can expect your dental bridge to last anywhere from 5-15 years, and in some instances longer. Good oral hygiene is important to maintaining the integrity of your dental bridge and the health of the supporting abutment teeth. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing and regular dental cleanings are essential. Your dentist may also recommend using a smaller toothbrush and special dental floss. It's worth noting that dental bridges will last longer if you avoid chewing on hard foods, ice and hard, non-food items like pens and pencils.
When you choose to get a dental bridge, you're making a smart investment in your health and appearance. Costs vary depending upon the type of teeth bridge you and your dentist select. Dental insurance plans generally cover about half the cost of dental bridges.
Is a Dental Bridge the Right Solution for You?
The advantages to replacing missing teeth with dental bridges are clear. Your dentist can tell you if you're a good candidate for a dental bridge.
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