Crown and bridge work, also described as restorative dentistry, refers to the restoration of natural teeth that have been damaged, decayed or lost. Crowns and bridges can correct missing teeth, bite dysfunction, and functional or structural problems. A crown may be constructed to restore an individual damaged tooth back to its original form and function, while a bridge may be utilized to replace one or more teeth. These restorations are cemented onto the teeth and are referred to as “fixed” dentistry as opposed to a restoration of missing teeth with a removable appliance or partial denture
Few incidents have greater impact on dental health and personal appearance than tooth loss. When one or more teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can drift out of position, which can lead to a change in the bite, the loss of additional teeth, decay and gum disease. When tooth loss occurs, your dentist may recommend the placement of a bridge. Designed to replace missing teeth and support surrounding teeth, a bridge is a grouping of interconnected crowns. Held in place by two crowns, a bridge can reduce the risk of gum disease, help correct bite issues and even improve speech. If performed by a well-trained cosmetic dentist, bridges are effective and durable and can last an excess of 10 years.
The loss of a single tooth can have a major impact on your dental health and personal appearance. Your teeth support and rely on each other. When one or more teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can shift out of their normal position. Teeth adjacent to the space or from the opposite jaw will often drift or tilt. These teeth are often more susceptible to decay and gum disease because they are more difficult to clean around. All of this shifting and drifting will lead to changes in the bite, which may put stress on the jaws, muscles and teeth. Ultimately, your ability to chew comfortably and your appearance may be affected.
If tooth loss occurs, your dentist may recommend that a bridge be placed. A bridge consists of a replacement tooth/teeth attached to crowns on each side. The bridge is cemented to the teeth adjacent to the space, effectively replacing the missing tooth and preventing any shifting.
The procedures involved in making a bridge are very similar to those for making a crown. Bridges can be made from the same materials as crowns – full porcelain, porcelain fused-to-metal, and all metal. At least two appointments are necessary. At the first visit, your dentist will prepare the teeth next to the missing tooth for crowns. An impression of the prepared teeth will be made and a temporary bridge will be placed. At the subsequent visit, your dentist will fit and adjust the bridge and then cement it in place.
Your new bridge will require some special care when brushing and flossing. Your dental professional will instruct you how to clean around and under the bridge. They may recommend various cleaning aids to help you keep the plaque off and prevent further decay and gum disease.
How is a bridge constructed?
The dentist begins bridgework by filing down the teeth to accommodate the crowns. Then the dentist will take impressions of the teeth, which will then be used to create the crowns.
The teeth on each side of the space are prepared and shaped to receive crowns. An impression of the area is made. Once the crowns are finished, the false tooth (or teeth) will be bonded to them. When the bridge is ready, a temporary (or transitional) bridge is formed and fitted in the area. During the next visit (usually a week later), the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent fixed bridge is placed, adjusted and cemented into place.
Once the bridgework is permanently cemented you may again enjoy your favorite foods with confidence. Bridgework allows you to avoid that sunken-in appearance caused by missing teeth and stabilizes that area of the dental arch to give you a more youthful appearance, allowing you to smile once more with confidence.
Caring For Your Bridge
The following recommendations will help to eliminate, or reduce, any oral health problems while your teeth bonded by a bridge:
- Brush your teeth carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, as food may become lodged causing the gums and teeth to become infected. This may lead to further complications resulting in the loss of the bridge.
- Floss daily. Your dentist, or other oral health specialist, may recommend using a floss threaded for hard-to-reach places between the bridge and its adjacent teeth.
- Have your teeth cleaned every 6 months by an oral health professional.
- Limit your sugar and starch intake, as debris left behind from these types of foods may turn into damaging acids, which, in addition to promoting plaque formation, may also be harmful to teeth and gums
- Avoid hard and/or sticky snacks. This includes foods such as popcorn, hard or chew candy, caramel, and/or nuts. Most bridges last 8 to 10 years with proper oral hygiene