If you have recently lost your tooth, whether due to an injury, medical condition, or natural causes, you may be wondering what your options are to restore your smile. A missing tooth can create an unsightly gap, but it’s often more than a cosmetic problem. You could also experience pain when chewing, discomfort in your jaw, or other problems that are caused by a change to your bite.
One of the most common solutions to this problem is having a dental bridge placed in your mouth. If you haven’t gone through this procedure before, it’s helpful to understand the process and what to expect.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a solution when you have lost a tooth, or when you have a gap that is causing your other teeth to become loose. This replacement tooth will fill in the space where something is missing, creating a natural appearance while helping to restore the tooth.
There are four main types of bridges, and your dentist will determine which is the right option for your situation. A traditional bridge is the most common type, which includes one or more fake teeth held in place with crowns. These crowns are cemented to the teeth surrounding the tooth that is missing.
Another option is a cantilever bridge, which is supported by a crown on only one side. If you only have one tooth next to your missing tooth, you can still have this type of crown secured to your mouth. Maryland bridges offer a more conservative approach, using porcelain or metal framework to hold the fake tooth in place. These bridges aren’t as strong as those cemented in, so teeth that have a lot of biting force won’t be able to hold up with a Maryland bridge.
The final type is an implant-supported bridge, which is often used when you have more than one tooth that is missing. These bridges are held in place by implants, which are secured to your jawbone for maximum stability. Most dentists will place one implant for each tooth that is missing.
Dental Bridge Placement
The placement of a dental bridge is not a surgical procedure, so you will stay awake throughout the treatment. However, if you’re nervous or uneasy about the thought of going through it, your dentist can provide mild sedation to help you relax and feel more comfortable. Your dentist will also numb the area of your mouth with local anesthetic by injecting medication directly into your gums. This is usually prefaced by the use of topical numbing jelly, placed on your gums to minimize the discomfort of the shot.
The first step in placing a dental bridge is taking imprints and measurements of your mouth. This ensures that your custom-made bridge will fit properly and feel comfortable. You will likely have to bite down on a soft piece of foam to create the imprint. If needed, your dentist may place temporary crowns if your teeth are compromised, offering protection as you wait for the bridge to be created. During your procedure, any temporary crowns will be removed and the dentist will apply the cement that holds the bridge in place.
Pain Level During and After the Procedure
During the procedure, you shouldn’t feel sharp pains because of the use of local anesthetic. However, you will have to keep your mouth open for up to several hours, so you may feel some discomfort or soreness in your jaw. Over-the-counter pain relievers will typically resolve the issue. You can also place an ice pack on the outside of your jaw.
One of the best things about a dental bridge as a treatment option is that the recovery is very minimal. In fact, you can typically eat normally as soon as the bridge has been placed in your mouth. Most patients have no trouble adapting to the bridge, but if you do feel any pain, you could have a rough patch on the bridge that your dentist can fix by performing an adjustment.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges offer a number of benefits. This simple procedure provides an appealing cosmetic result that eliminates the space and creates a uniform, beautiful smile. When you have one or more missing teeth, you can also suffer from problems with biting and chewing. Replacing the teeth with bridges will eliminate any problems you might experience when you’re eating. Your speech can also be impacted by a missing tooth, so filling it in with a fake tooth will allow you to speak normally.
Keep Your Dental Bridges in Place with These Tips
Healthy teeth are important to both your wellbeing and your confidence. In fact, a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry revealed that over half of people over age 50 think that a smile is the physical feature that stays the most attractive as we age. This is why many people opt for dental bridges to keep their smile complete later in life.
If you have recently received implants, follow these tips to take care of them and keep them in place for as long as possible.
•Brush Like Normal: Luckily, taking care of your bridge does not differ too much from taking care of your real teeth. Be sure to brush twice per day with a quality tooth brush to keep your teeth and bridge clean and healthy. Your dentist may recommend a specific type of brush.
•Floss Thoroughly: To ensure that food particles don’t get stuck around your bridge, commit to flossing at least once per day. For a bit of extra care, try flossing after every meal. Also keep a container of floss with you at all times to stay on top of sneaky foods.
•Try Water Flossing: Another option that many dentists recommend is water irrigation. Water flossing involves using a small device to clean your teeth out with water. This is a thorough way to remove particles as well.
•Watch What You Eat: Stay away from any hard and sticky foods as much as possible, and consume them with care when you do indulge. If you bite into something too hard, you risk cracking or removing your bridge. In the event of bridge damage, see your dentist as soon as possible.
•Visit Your Dentist: The best thing you can do for your bridges and all of your teeth is to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups. Most dentists recommend making appointments twice per year, but ask yours for more specific timing.
After your bridge is put in place, be sure to ask your dentist for their recommended care instructions. Also, always contact them when any issues arise. By taking initiative and caring for your bridge, you will keep your smile looking beautiful and complete for years to come.
With the right treatment, a missing or damaged tooth doesn’t have to impact the look of your smile or the overall condition of your mouth. Dental bridges offer a number of advantages, so if your dentist recommends this treatment for your condition, it’s an excellent option.
At Esthetic Smile Dental we are all about making sure you get the best dental care possible. Our skilled team of dentists, hygienists, assistants, and office staff are here to make you feel comfortable! We want you to enjoy visiting us just as much as we enjoy seeing you!