Teeth are not just for used for chewing but are also important in speech and appearances; although most of the time taken for granted until decay or gum disease causes pain enough for the patient to take notice. The teeth also work together with the tongue for a person to be able to speak properly.
Taking care of the teeth ensures that the person’s appearance is maintained. How so? Well, when teeth go missing because of decay and extraction, the gums and bones underneath these areas shrink, giving the person a prematurely aged appearance. When left untreated, the area with the missing teeth will soon be filled by adjacent teeth, tilting toward the empty space. Aside from this being unsightly, the tilted teeth would be more difficult to clean and prone to gum disease, leading to more loss of teeth!
Bridges to Fill the Gap
Bridges or fixed partial dentures are among the top choices to provide teeth between the gap, not just for aesthetic purposes but also to ensure the health of the nearby teeth.
It is also important to remember that the mouth is so designed so as to allow even chewing of food. If there are gaps in portions at one side of the mouth, chewing can become a difficult task, leading to stress on the side that has no problems. Again, that could eventually lead to added teeth problems and more missing teeth.
What are Bridges?
Dental bridges are restorations that replace the space previously occupied by one or more teeth. Fixed partial dentures are bonded into place, often anchored by the 2 adjacent teeth. These could not be removed but the dentist can assist in cleaning these during oral prophylaxis.
There are different kinds of bridges available – the dentist should be able to determine which ones will best suit your needs.
- Maryland-bonded bridges – metal wings on each side of the bridge are bonded into the back of the adjacent teeth which support the plastic teeth and gums
- Cantilever bridges – used only one side of the missing teeth has an adjacent tooth
- Traditional bridges – made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics, these bridges have a crown for the adjacent teeth which are used as anchors plus a pontic in between
Each of these dental bridges offers their own pros and cons.
In order for traditional bridges to be set in place, the 2 adjacent teeth have to be re-contoured and shaped into abutments. These abutment teeth will be given a crown and would anchor the bridge in place; however, this means that 2 teeth have to be re-shaped to fix the gap. This is often seen as a disadvantage especially if these 2 were healthy in the first place. The re-shaping removes material from the crown, making these abutment teeth more prone to damage due to wear and tear.
Bonded bridges are less expensive than traditional bridges, with very little preparation required on the adjacent teeth for the bond to be forged. In fact, the metal wings set at the back of the adjacent teeth hold these bridges in place. The disadvantage here is that the bridge is not as stable as the traditional bridge, with it being highly dependent on the bonding material used.
If not sure what dental bridge to use, feel free to ask the dentist for advice.
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