When you’re missing a tooth or teeth, you have a few options to fill the gap: partial dentures, a fixed bridge, or dental implants.
The one option you don’t really have is to leave the gap unfilled. Why? If you have one or more missing teeth, the adjacent teeth tend to try and move over to fill the gap. This causes alignment problems for your teeth. Also, when you bite and chew, a good deal of force is applied downward into the tooth. That force is transferred down into the jawbone where the tooth root is anchored. This energy stimulates the jawbone to continue to regenerate new bone and stay healthy. When teeth are missing, the corresponding jawbone beneath them no longer receives that stimulation and begins to lose bone mass.
A fixed bridge
At the Doctors of Dental Medicine, we use fixed bridges and implants to replace missing teeth. We prefer dental implants, if possible. An implant basically functions exactly as a natural tooth does because it is anchored into the jawbone just like a normal tooth. However, if implants are not an option due to cost or other circumstances, we can close the space with a fixed bridge.
A bridge, as the name implies, simply crosses the gap and is anchored on each side. Across the bridge are pontics (false teeth) in place of your actual missing teeth. In a fixed bridge, we use the teeth on both sides of the gap, called the abutments. We take off some of each tooth to hold the bridge. We then place a crown on top of each tooth that is connected to the bridge between. Bridges can be made of porcelain or ceramic.
How long does a bridge last?
The bridge and the crowns that hold it can last a lifetime if you practice good oral hygiene. If you do not, the teeth holding the bridge can become decayed and the bridge can become loose.
If you have a missing tooth or teeth, it’s important to consider your options for filling the gap. Call us at the Doctors of Dental Medicine for an appointment, 732-329-3113.