If you’re missing one or more teeth, you already know how this affects your smile, but you may not realize other associated problems. These can include:
- Changing of the shape of your face, which can make you look older
- Shifting of your remaining teeth
- Joint disorder known as TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorder); this disorder can become quite painful
- Change in your bite (also called your “occlusion”)
- Lessening of your ability to chew food
- Impact on how you speak
One excellent solution for each of the problems caused by one or more missing teeth is the dental bridge. There are numerous types of bridges, and your dentist can recommend the materials and methods that are best for your unique situation.
The process starts out with a consultation, where your dentist will determine if a bridge is the best solution for your missing tooth or teeth. The health of your gums is a factor, as well as the health of surrounding teeth. If it is determined that this is a good solution for you, then your dentist will likely discuss which materials are available for your bridge. The right choice will depend upon where in your mouth the bridge will be placed, whether you grind your teeth and/or clench your jaw, and other factors.
As part of the process, X-rays and images will be taken, along with impressions of the targeted area. The impression is made from a putty-like material and this impression is what the professional lab will use to create a dental bridge that precisely fits your mouth.
Your dentist will prepare your tooth or teeth for the bridge and will provide you with a temporary dental bridge to protect your teeth and gums while the bridge is being fabricated. When the permanent bridge is ready, your dentist will professionally fit it and secure it in your mouth.
Talk to your dentist about how to maintain your bridge for as long as possible. This includes eating a healthy diet, appropriately brushing, using a fluoride toothpaste two or more times per day, and the use of a special flosser to clean the areas surrounding your bridge. Continue to see your dentist regularly because if the supporting teeth around the bridge or the jawbone is affected by disease the bridge itself can fail. When properly maintained, a bridge can last for many, many years.