Dental Bridges in Scripps Ranch
A dental bridge is a non-removable appliance that fills in the gap left by a missing tooth to recreate a complete, beautiful smile. Bridges restore full chewing and speaking ability, and help maintain a natural facial shape. They also prevent problems with the remaining teeth: for example, they prevent the teeth from drifting out of position or prematurely wearing down because they must compensate for the missing tooth.
An attractive, properly fitted bridge requires the skill and experience of a dentist like Dr. Jennifer Santoro. She understands the embarrassment and discomfort that a missing tooth can create, and she is committed to offering personalized dental solutions to improve dental appearance, function and comfort.
Replacing a Tooth with a Fixed Bridge
Fixed bridges are a good option if you are missing one or more teeth but still have some natural teeth that are strong and healthy. Bridges rely on the surrounding teeth for support and structure. A traditional bridge is constructed from two crowns that anchor an artificial tooth in the middle. The artificial tooth fits into the gap to create a literal bridge between the remaining teeth. The crowns are then attached to the teeth on either side of the gap, and the whole piece is bonded into place.
Fixed bridges are usually created from porcelain, which is a beautiful and functional material. The porcelain can be sculpted to recreate the appearance of natural tooth enamel. It’s also very durable and can last for many years.
Dental Bridge Placement Process
Dr. Santoro can replace missing or damaged teeth several different ways, so it is important to consult with her to find the approach that works best for you. She will want to complete a thorough examination to confirm that a bridge is the most suitable solution for your needs and goals. Also, there are several types of bridges and Dr. Santoro can explain the type that is ideal for your circumstances.
Placing a bridge usually requires two or more appointments. The first step of the bridge placement process is to prepare the anchoring teeth that will be crowned. Dr. Santoro may need to remove a small amount of tooth enamel to allow for the crowns, but she will preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible. Next, impressions will be taken to send to the dental laboratory responsible for fabricating the bridge. A temporary bridge will be placed until your next appointment.
When your permanent bridge is ready, you will return to our office for another visit. During the appointment, Dr. Santoro will remove the provisional bridge and position your customized bridge. If you are happy with both the fit and the look of the permanent bridge, Dr. Santoro will cement the entire appliance into place.
With proper brushing and flossing, and routine dental visits, dental bridges can last many years.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Bridges
Who should get a dental bridge?
You may benefit from a dental bridge if you have one or more consecutive missing teeth. Perhaps you had a tooth knocked out from an injury or an accident, or you lost a tooth to severe decay or gum disease. A dental bridge will restore the appearance of a natural, healthy tooth, giving you the confidence that comes from a complete smile with no gaps.
Is a dental bridge removable?
Dental bridges are “fixed” into place, meaning they cannot be removed (unless by a dentist). Dr. Santoro and our hygienists will show you the proper way to brush and floss your fixed bridge, and we will recommend hygiene products to keep your restoration clean. We will also explain how often to see us for check-ups and professional cleanings.
Does placing a bridge affect the adjacent teeth?
In a traditional bridge, the teeth near the gap are slightly modified to support the restoration. This involves removing a small amount of tooth structure and crowning those teeth. In general, the less healthy tooth structure removed, the better. Dr. Santoro is very conservative when removing tooth enamel from the supporting teeth.
What is an implant-supported bridge?
An implant-supported bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, except that it is held in place with implant posts instead of natural teeth.
Implant-supported bridges are very stable and support normal eating and speaking. They also protect the underlying jawbone against atrophy. Because the implant posts replace the natural tooth roots, chewing on them keeps the jawbone engaged and strong.
Certain patients are not candidates for implant-supported bridges. If you are interested in securing your bridge to implant posts, ask Dr. Santoro about your options.
What are the other types of bridges?
A cantilever bridge is comprised of a prosthetic tooth attached to one supporting crown. The crown is placed over a tooth adjacent to the gap, and the prosthetic tooth fills the gap. Cantilever bridges are normally used for people who have natural teeth on only one side of the gap left by the missing tooth (e.g., the teeth in the back of the mouth).
A Maryland-bonded bridge is comprised of a prosthetic tooth supported by a framework of “wings” on either side. The wings bond to the back sides of the teeth adjacent to the gap and hold the artificial tooth or teeth in place. Maryland-bonded bridges are sometimes used to replace missing front teeth.
There are pros and cons to these bridges, which Dr. Santoro can review during your initial consultation.
How can I prolong the life of my dental bridge?
Diligent at-home care and regular professional checks will keep your bridge clean, intact and functioning optimally for quite a few years.
Dr. Santoro and our hygienists also encourage you to avoid biting or chewing on any hard substances — such as ice or shells — that could break or fracture the restoration. Also, refrain from using your teeth to open bottles or chew on pen caps, as these behaviors can be harmful to your bridge. And, if you have a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, you may need to invest in a custom mouth guard to protect your bridge.
Learn More about Dental Bridges
If you are interested in replacing a missing tooth with a fixed dental bridge, Dr. Santoro and our team can give you more information during a consultation. Please call or email Village Center Dentistry to book an appointment at our office.