Thanks to advancing technology in restorative dentistry, there are more ways to replace lost teeth than ever, each with varying benefits to meet a patient’s needs. One method of replacement for single or multiple teeth is a dental bridge, which can be used in conjunction with - or in lieu of - dental implants. Although not everyone is a good candidate for a bridge, those that are can benefit from a realistic and long-term solution to tooth loss.
If you are looking for a way to regain a full smile, our Boston practice can provide the appropriate technique for you. To help you weigh your options and form clear expectations, here is an overview of the treatment process for dental bridges.
Candidacy for Dental Bridges
First, patients should schedule a consultation with Dr. Stein to learn if they are good candidates for dental bridges. Since bridges can span one or more missing teeth, most instances of tooth loss can be solved through a dental bridge. And since the procedure is minimally invasive, health concerns are a relatively small issue. However, additional factors also come into play that may limit someone’s ability to support a bridge.
Because bridges are held in place by crowns on either end, patients must have adequately healthy teeth to support the bridge. These teeth must be on both sides of the gap to be filled, and they must be free of decay and disease prior to being crowned. Therefore, patients whose neighboring teeth are also unhealthy will not likely be able to support a crown without additional work. If there is minimal decay, the teeth may be restored through fillings or a similar procedure. If the supporting teeth are in danger of being lost themselves, it may be advantageous to replace them with dental implants, and then use the implants to support the bridge. Either way, the dental bridge must be anchored by healthy teeth, implants, or a combination thereof.
Getting a Bridge Installed
Bridges must be crafted from impressions of your teeth and, as a result, require two separate visits to complete treatment. In the first visit, teeth will be prepared for the bridge:
- Local anesthesia will be used to numb teeth before they are prepared.
- A layer of enamel will be removed from around the two supporting teeth, reducing them in size so that they may accommodate the bridge’s crowns.
- Impressions will be taken of the teeth, which will be used to craft the crowns and full replacement teeth.
- The impressions will be sent out to a special lab. In the meantime, you will be given temporary restorations to wear around your teeth to protect them.
Typically, it will be one or two weeks before the dental bridge is ready. Once it has been created and sent to your cosmetic dentist, you will be called in for the second and final visit:
- The bridge will be fitted over teeth and examined.
- As long as there are no problems, the bridge will be cemented to the supporting teeth, permanently securing it in place.
Caring for Your Dental Bridge
Even though the replacement teeth and crowns of a bridge cannot suffer from tooth decay, adjacent teeth and gums can still be affected by a build-up of bacteria. If decay forms within one of the crowned teeth, the bridge will have to be removed and replaced in order to treat the tooth. Thus, patients must continue to take excellent care of their teeth, bridges included. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are of the utmost importance. To help clean between the bottom of a bridge and the gum line, consider the use of Super Floss® or a floss threader. Additionally, continue to see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings. Not only will routine appointments keep your teeth decay-free, but they also allow Dr. Stein to keep an eye on your restorations and their condition.
Learn More about Dental Bridges
To learn whether you may be a candidate for a dental bridge or similar restoration, schedule an appointment with us. We will examine your individual needs and recommend the most effective form of tooth replacement. Contact us to ask a question or schedule your consultation.