An Overview of Dental Bridges to Replace Missing Teeth
Most human beings have 32 teeth. The four 3rd molars, or wisdom teeth, are generally superfluous and very often emerge crookedly or tend to crowd the teeth adjacent the third molar. Very often these third molars are removed and there is no need to replace them. That leaves us with 28 teeth that are essential for chewing your food properly to aid digestion. If one or more of these 28 teeth are lost, it can have severe complications for your oral health and general wellbeing.
Possible consequences are:
- Food is not chewed adequately, which places more strain on your digestive system. This strain could lead to digestive difficulties which could have far reaching consequences. 10% of your ability to chew is lost for every missing tooth.
- The teeth remaining on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth will tend to shift into the missing space. This makes the whole area more susceptible to tooth decay. When this shift occurs, root structure that would normally be covered, will become exposed, which increases the risk of tooth decay.
- There will be a tendency for the cheeks and mouth to sink into the gap caused by the missing tooth, which will alter the tone and structure of the face.
- It is a blow to your image and self-esteem, when people notice gaps in your mouth caused by missing teeth. This will cause you to become self-conscious when you talk, smile or laugh.
There are various ways that this gap can be filled. We are talking principally about bridges in this article, so I will deal with them first, and then finish off by mentioning the alternatives.
Different Types of Bridges
- Traditional Bridges: Traditional bridges are made by preparing the adjacent teeth on either side of the gap to receive the bridge. This normally involves reducing the size of the adjacent teeth to prepare these teeth to accept crowns, which will anchor the bridge. The missing tooth, or pontic, is permanently affixed to the crowns, on a framework of either metal or ceramic. The pontic is normally made of porcelain. In some cases, the crown is replaced by a titanium implant for added permanence and stability. Traditional bridges are the most common bridges in use.
- Cantilever Bridges: Cantilevered bridges are used when there is only one adjacent tooth on the side of the gap. These bridges are very seldom used nowadays as they put severe strain on the tooth acting as the anchor.
- Resin Bonded Bridges: In these type of bridges, a metal or porcelain wing on one or both sides of the bridge are resin bonded to the adjacent teeth.
- Full or partial dentures, either of the traditional kind that can be taken out of the mouth; or the denture is affixed to existing teeth by either wire hooks, or retained by implants.
- Implants are single stand-alone titanium posted “roots” that are bonded to the underlying bone structure. A porcelain crown is then attached to the implanted post. The advantage of this type of prosthesis is that you don’t have to alter the adjacent teeth, thereby weakening them and leaving yourself open to the development of further problems.
With the state of dental technology today, there is no need for you to suffer the embarrassment of a missing tooth. There are many alternatives available to replace your missing teeth. Consult your dentist to discuss the best solution for you.