If you are faced with tooth loss, crown and bridge treatment may be the best option for you. A bridge is a custom-made device anchored to neighboring natural teeth, which replaces one or more missing teeth. When a lost tooth is replaced with bridgework, the teeth on either side of the missing one are prepared as crowns to hold the bridge in place. Bridges, sometimes referred to as a fixed partial denture, look natural and literally bridge the gap where one or more teeth have been. Fixed bridges appear and function similar to natural teeth and remain in the mouth at all times. They can only be removed by your dentist.
Benefits of Crown and Bridge Treatment
- Restores lost teeth and supports remaining teeth
Restores and maintains your natural bite
- Prevents undue stress on natural teeth
- Improves your speech, smile and chewing ability
- Helps prevent further dental decay and gum disease
- Prevents tilting and shifting of adjacent teeth
A crown or “cap” is a tooth-like covering placed over an existing tooth that has been specially prepared by your dentist. Crowns help to strengthen and restore or improve the appearance of your natural teeth. In addition to strengthening a tooth to accommodate the attachment of a bridge, crowns serve many functions. One of the most common is to support the tooth when there is no longer sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling. Crowns and bridges are most often made of superior materials such as semi-precious or precious metals, porcelain or a combination of metal fused to porcelain.
Crown and Bridge Procedure
Once it is determined you need a crown and bridgework, a series of appointments will be scheduled.
- At the first appointment you will undergo a complete oral examination. If X-rays are required, they are taken. Next, the abutting teeth are reduced to accept crowns and impressions are made. A dental laboratory will use these impressions as a model to create the bridge, false tooth and crown. Your teeth are then fitted with a temporary crown or bridge to protect your teeth until the next appointment.
- At the second appointment, your cosmetic dentist will make any necessary adjustments before cementing it permanently. The dentist will take time to color match the bridge so it looks natural, check your chewing and biting for accuracy and ensure the bridge conforms to the surrounding tissue. It is common for your teeth to be mildly sensitive to extreme temperatures for a few weeks after the procedure.
Caring For Bridges
Good oral hygiene can help your bridge last a long time. If you do not properly control the build up of food debris and plaque, your teeth can become infected, resulting in decay and the potential loss of your bridge. With proper care, a bridge can last eight to ten years, or longer. The difference between proper and improper care generally determines the success of the dental bridge.
Proper care tips include:
- Brush the surface and sides of your bridge like you do your natural teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush after each meal
- Floss at least once daily. Special thin floss can help keep your bridge clean
- Use an interdental brush to clean between the large spaces
- Have you teeth cleaned by you dental hygienist every six months
- Avoid sticky foods like caramel, gum and taffy and crunchy foods like hard candy
- Do not chew on ice cubes
The Cost of Bridges
The average cost of a single fixed bridge depends on where you live and which type of bridge you require. Dental insurance usually pays for approximately half of the cost.
Bridgework is a long-term solution that can help prevent a cycle of problems that can occur with a missing tooth. Whether it’s due to decay, gum disease, injury or accident, losing a tooth can cause many serious problems for your neighboring natural teeth. Usually, in just two appointments you can restore your smile, enhance your appearance and improve your overall dental health. To find out more about crown and bridgework, consult your dentist or hygienist.