All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age, but if you do lose teeth they should be replaced to maintain proper function while eating, and speaking. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.
Dental Bridge Options
A bridge is a device used to replace missing teeth. The concept attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, which we call abutment teeth. Bridges are permanently attached to your teeth and do not have to be taken in and out.
Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it’s difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are a great way to restore your dental health and appearance.
Why do I need a bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing.
Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.
How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment our dentists will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap. Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either precious or non-precious metal.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.
Dentures and Partial Dentures
A denture, or a complete denture as it is often called, is an appliance that is inserted in the mouth, replaces natural teeth and provides support for the cheeks and lips. Similarly, a partial denture replaces one or several missing teeth and uses remaining teeth as anchors to help hold them in place.
Most dentures are made of acrylic and can be fabricated two different ways.
1. A conventional denture is made after all teeth have been extracted and the tissues (gums) have healed.
2. An immediate denture is fabricated and inserted immediately after the teeth are extracted and the tissues are
allowed to heal under the denture.
An upper denture has acrylic, usually flesh coloured, which covers the palate (roof of the mouth). A lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to leave room for the tongue. Partial dentures are designed with clasps that help secure the denture to adjacent teeth.
The teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination thereof. Dentures can be fabricated to fit over endodontically treated teeth and a complete denture can be attached to dental implants to allow for a more secure fit of the appliance.
Dentures, over a normal course of time, will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.