A missing tooth is a common dental problem in the US – about 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Although it is common, a missing tooth can cause other dental issues, such as a change in bite or even bone loss. A dental bridge is one solution to replace missing teeth.
What is a dental bridge?
When there is at least one tooth on either side of a missing tooth, the missing tooth may be replaced with a bridge. Unlike dentures, a bridge is usually a fixed solution that is not removable. This method of replacing missing teeth involves connecting (or bridging) two existing teeth with a replacement tooth, which is often made of porcelain.
Traditional dental bridge
The conventional or traditional dental bridge method involves cutting down existing teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth to be able to connect them together and fill in the gap from the missing tooth. While the bridge is cemented to the two existing teeth, it is not connected to the gum itself (as a dental implant is). To use this method, there must be enough bone support from the existing teeth next to the missing tooth.
Implant-supported dental bridge
If there is not enough support from healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth, an implant-supported dental bridge may be an option. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically inserted into the jaw bone where it serves as an artificial tooth root holding the replacement tooth in place. The implant fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration, making it nearly as sturdy and secure as a natural tooth. Implants will be inserted on either side of the missing tooth, and they will be fitted with a bridge.
When is a dental bridge necessary?
A missing tooth can bring with it several other dental issues. For example, when you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth may tilt or shift to fill the empty space. The teeth in the opposite jaw may also shift up or down toward the space. This can affect your bite, place stress on your teeth and jaw, and possibly cause pain.
In addition, teeth that have shifted or tipped are also often harder to clean. This puts them at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, which adds a completely separate layer of dental issues to a missing tooth.
Lastly, without a tooth to exercise the jawbone, the underlying bone may shrink over time. This can change the way the jawbone is able to support the lips and cheeks and can eventually change the natural shape of the face. Dental implants in particular are a great way to prevent bone loss, as they fuse with the bone and continue to allow the jaw to exercise and develop properly.
With the help of a dental bridge or an implant-supported bridge, the teeth can remain in place and prevent shifting, bite change, or bone loss.
Do I need a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is an effective way to replace a missing tooth. It can hold your other teeth in place and make everyday activities easier. With the help of dental implants, a bridge can also prevent bone loss and preserve your natural bite and face shape.
Whether you want to protect your existing teeth, or think you may need to replace your missing teeth with a dental bridge, the dentists at White River Dental can help. Connect with us on Facebook, use the contact form below, or give us a call. We are eager to hear from you!