Losing a single tooth often doesn’t seem like such a big deal, especially when that tooth is not visible when you smile. However, even if you lose just one tooth, it can still have a serious impact on your oral health. At National Dental Williston Park, we have several options available to replace missing teeth, including bridges.
Consequences of Tooth Loss
Even just losing one tooth can have a serious impact on your oral health. One of the most obvious consequences, depending upon location, is the effect on your appearance. Losing a tooth can impact your ability to properly chew your food, which can affect your digestion (and overall nutrition). Food can get lodged in the space, promoting tooth decay and gum disease. Depending upon the location of the tooth, you may develop a lisp, affecting your speech. Over time, your jaw will begin to change shape, which occurs naturally as a result of tooth loss. This can cause your adjacent teeth to shift from their natural positions into the empty space. Your bite is thrown off, which can lead to excessive, uneven tooth wear and serious jaw and temporomandibular joint pain.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a dental restoration that is designed to bridge the gap left behind by your missing tooth and can often be used to replace up to three missing teeth in the same area. It consists of your replacement tooth (called a pontic tooth) set between two crowns. The crowns anchor on to your adjacent teeth (called abutment teeth), which holds the bridge firmly in place. The ceramic allows your bridge to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your natural teeth, mimicking the natural color and light reflecting properties of enamel.
How is a Dental Bridge Placed?
The procedure for placing a bridge is similar to the procedure for placing crowns. It typically takes two visits. On your first visit, we prepare the abutment teeth. Under a local anesthetic, we trim or remove a portion of the enamel from each tooth, creating sufficient space so that your bridge fits in perfectly with the rest of your teeth. It can take up to two weeks for your bridge to be ready, so a temporary restoration is placed in the meantime. Once your bridge is ready, we will bring you in for your second appointment. During this visit, your crown is checked for fit, and it is cemented in place.
Caring for Your Bridge
Bridges do not require any special care. They should be brushed at least twice a day and flossed daily just like your natural teeth. Even though your bridge cannot experience decay, it can still collect plaque and bacteria, which can promote gum disease. Regular dental visits at least twice a year are also important. As we check the condition of your natural teeth, we will also take a look at your bridge to check for signs of damage. Avoiding biting and chewing on anything hard, such as ice, popcorn kernels, or your fingernails. You should also avoid using your teeth to open packaging.
Benefits of a Bridge
A bridge has numerous benefits:
- It gives you back your smile.
- You can eat and speak normally once again.
- Your digestion improves (thanks to improved chewing).
- Your adjacent teeth stay in proper alignment.
- Your oral health is improved.
If you are missing even just one tooth, it is important to have it replaced as soon as possible. For more information about bridges, and to find out if they are right for you, call National Dental Williston Park today at (516) 686-9780.