A Bridge to a Complete Smile

Missing teeth can hurt your self-confidence and cause you to be shy about smiling but they can also cause a multitude of problems. From make it difficult to speaking normally to limiting what you can eat, leading to poor nutrition, missing teeth can play a part. Fortunately, dental medicine has several excellent ways of replacing lost teeth.

One of the simplest and most reliable methods is the dental bridge. Dr. Abbas Ahrabi and the skilled dental professionals at Oakton Dental Center in Oakton VA want to take a moment to explain the benefits of bridges for restoring a healthy smile.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A bridge is a kind of prosthesis (artificial replacement part) that fills the gap left by a missing tooth and is supported by the surrounding healthy teeth. In dental terms, the artificial replacement tooth is called the “pontic” (from the French word “pont” meaning bridge). The healthy adjacent teeth are called abutments. The abutments support the pontic on either side. The completed prosthesis crosses over the gap in your teeth just like a bridge spanning a canyon hence the name.

To support the pont, the teeth that will form the abutment must be specially prepared. Your dentist must “cap” or crown the abutments to do this. This process is completed in much the same way as if your teeth needed crowns due to tooth decay or damage.

First, their enamel is carefully removed to create enough space for the crown to fit over the abutments while maintaining a lifelike appearance and not looking or feeling overly large in your mouth. The crowns on the abutment teeth are attached to the crown of the false tooth (pontic) in between. The pontic is really just another crown but with no living tooth underneath to support it.

Building a Bridge

As explained previously, if you have one missing tooth, your bridge will need three crowns: two crowns over the abutment teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth and one in between to serve as the pontic. This arrangement is commonly called a three-unit bridge.

If more than one tooth is missing, more pontics (and possibly more abutment teeth) will be needed to create the bridge. Your dentist must take several variables into account in this calculation: the number of missing teeth being replaced, the condition of the abutment teeth and the stability of their roots, and also from where in the mouth the teeth were lost. The location is important because some teeth get more vigorous use than others.

So if you are missing three teeth, four abutment teeth may need to be prepared, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing a dental bridge requires an understanding of the biology of the tooth-supporting gum and bone tissue as well as how to craft and install the prosthesis.

What to Expect

The completion of bridgework usually requires two visits to your dentist’s office. At the first visit, your dentist will administer local anesthetic and prepare your abutment teeth for crowns. Three-dimensional models of your teeth models of your abutment teeth will be created based on molds as templates for the crowns that will cover them. A temporary bridge will be placed before you leave the office.

When your permanent bridge has been constructed and sent to the dentist’s office, it will be permanently placed place during the second visit. You will need some time to become accustomed to the feel of the new bridge against your tongue, lips, and cheeks, but will eventually come to accept it as part of your own teeth.

Caring for your Bridge

Crowned teeth need regular daily care just like your other teeth. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss every day to reduce the build-up of dental plaque around your crowns which can lead to gum inflammations and threaten the stability of your abutment teeth. It is even more important to  schedule regular cleanings with your dental provider if you have a bridge. If properly cared for a bridge can last for a long time.

Dental Bridges in Oakton, VA

If you are in the Oakton VA area and would like to discuss tooth replacement options with Dr. Harabi or even just have a routine teeth cleaning, call (703) 938-3405 or schedule online with Oakton Dental Center today.

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