Sometimes we have a tooth knocked out, say in a Turkey Bowl “touch” family football game. Or a tooth with extensive decay could have been extracted. Sometimes when it’s just a single tooth the person could be tempted to not replace it. After all, it’s just a single tooth, right? That line of thinking evidently isn’t unusual — an estimated 69% of Americans age 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth.

The problem isn’t necessarily the gap; it’s your other teeth. Just like fans at a packed football game when one person leaves a bleacher row, your teeth move over to fill the empty gap. This causes issues with your bite and overall tooth alignment.

While Dr. Smith believes implants are the best solution to replace missing teeth, sometimes patients prefer the option of the less involved solution of a dental bridge.

What is a bridge?

A bridge, as the name implies, spans the gap of the missing tooth or teeth, using a crown to anchor it on each side with an artificial tooth (called a pontic) in the middle. The adjacent teeth on each side are the abutment teeth. Bridges can be made of a variety of materials, but the most common bridge materials are porcelain and ceramic.

How is a bridge placed?

When a patient opts for a bridge, the first step is to prepare the abutment teeth. Dr. Smith removes some of each of the two abutment teeth to make room for crowns to be placed atop both teeth. We then take dental impressions and send them to our dental lab for fabrication of your bridge. The bridge will be a single piece, with crowns on both sides and the pontic or pontics in between.

When your bridge is finished you return and Dr. Smith checks the fit and the color match of your bridge. If everything looks good, he cements the crowns down onto your abutment teeth and you’re good to go.

Duration

Crowns can last the rest of your life, if you practice good home hygiene. The portion of your bridge with the artificial teeth in the middle won’t last as long, but they can last up to a couple decades with diligent home care and if you avoid eating foods that could break the bridge.

If you have a missing tooth or teeth, call Dr. Smith and let’s talk about your replacement options.

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