Dental Bridges in Scottsdale, AZ
Tooth loss is a common problem that many adults may experience at some point. Tooth replacement options like dental bridges provide the form and function that are necessary to feel physically and socially comfortable. Dental bridges represent one of the most well-known and reliable methods of replacing a few missing teeth in a dental arch. The process can be completed over just a few office visits, restoring the natural appearance and sensation of the smile in a short period of time.
Over 178 million Americans are missing at least a single tooth. It’s tempting sometimes to save the expense and hassle of replacing a missing tooth, but that can have negative implications for your overall dental health. A dental bridge is a great way to replace a missing tooth or teeth and improve your smile.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a dental prosthetic that “bridges” the gap of your missing tooth/teeth. The bridge consists of crowns on the healthy teeth on each side of the gap (these are also called the abutment teeth). Between the crowns is an artificial tooth or teeth (called pontics) that replace the missing teeth. Bridges are anchored by the healthy abutment teeth or by dental implants. Dr. Eric Wiitala prefers porcelain for the crowns and artificial teeth because porcelain closely mimics the translucence and light reflection of natural tooth enamel.
Why you may need to replace your missing teeth
It’s tempting to put off replacing a missing tooth, particularly if it’s a molar that isn’t readily visible. But that’s a bad idea for a variety of reasons. First, teeth stay put due to the pressure placed on them by neighboring teeth. When a tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth tend to slide over into the gap. This creates alignment and bite problems.
Here are the reasons for having a bridge replace a tooth or teeth:
- To complete your smile
- To prevent adjacent teeth from moving
- To restore chewing and biting capability
- To distribute the bite forces to not overload other teeth
- To restore your speaking diction
- To maintain the shape of your face
Will dental bridges ruin my jaw or gums?
A well-made dental bridge does not pose a threat to the gums nor the jawbone. It should be understood, however, that a dental bridge cannot reverse or prevent bone loss. The natural teeth and their roots stimulate bone regeneration by transferring the force of chewing as vibrations to the jawbone. When a tooth is lost, that transfer of vibration goes away and, as result, the jawbone starts to recede.
How many teeth can be replaced with a Dental Bridge
Most often, dentists use traditional dental bridges to replace one or two adjacent teeth. However, in some cases, a bridge can be made to replace up to four teeth. The objective of treatment is to restore appearance as well as the best possible chewing function. It is necessary for the bridge to be able to withstand the force of normal biting. To achieve this goal, the dentist may limit the number of teeth included in the bridge.
How to prepare for the Dental Bridge procedure
If your dental exam and consultation determine that you are a good candidate for a dental bridge, you may prepare for your treatment by contacting your insurance company for coverage amounts. In terms of oral care, continue brushing and flossing normally. You may need to stop taking certain medications and supplements to reduce the risk of bleeding.
The Dental Bridge procedure In Scottsdale, AZ
Receiving a bridge from Dr. Wiitala involves two office visits. During your first appointment, we prepare the abutment teeth for their crowns. First, we need to make room for the crowns, so Dr. Wiitala shaves off a portion of the enamel from the healthy teeth on all sides and the top. The crowns will completely cover the natural teeth down to the gumline. We then take impressions and photos of your teeth to send to the dental lab to use when fabricating your bridge. While we are awaiting your bridge, we place a temporary bridge that we make in-house also using your impressions.
Once your bridge is finished, you return for your second appointment. Dr. Wiitala checks its fit and color match with your natural teeth. He adjusts the fit as needed. If you desire, we can place the bridge with temporary cement so that you can try out the fit for a day or two at home. Once satisfied, your bridge is permanently cemented onto your abutment teeth and you’re finished.
What is the recovery and aftercare for Dental Bridges?
Dental bridge treatment is not associated with any major side effects. Patients can expect minor symptoms such as discomfort, swelling, and tooth sensitivity during the course of treatment. These symptoms are easy to manage with good aftercare and over-the-counter medication as needed. While post-procedure side effects are generally short-lived, it may some time to adjust to the dental bridge. Patients can return to work and most normal activities within 24 hours of receiving a bridge. However, it may take one to two weeks to get used to the feel of the crowns and artificial tooth in the mouth. Some patients experience a slight change in speech after getting a dental bridge. This is a temporary effect that resolves as the tongue and cheeks acclimate to the new structures. If discomfort or other side effects persist beyond two weeks, it is a good idea to contact our office to have the bridge evaluated and adjusted if necessary.
During the brief recovery phase after dental bridge treatment, comfort can be managed with medication as well as the use of cold compresses to the side of the cheek. Patients should avoid very hot, very cold, and very hard or chewing substances while getting used to their new bridge.
Read what our patients are saying!
“I arrived for procedure with much anxiety but throughout dr whitila explained everything he was going to do. I gradually relaxed with his assurances. I’m really pleased with my care both from him and his assistant.” -B.B
The advantages of having a Dental Bridge?
There are only two options for replacing a missing tooth or teeth, a bridge or a dental implant. Bridges, sometimes called partial dentures if replacing a series of missing teeth, are more affordable than implants. For most patients replacing a series of teeth with individual implants is not really feasible. Bridges also are relatively quick procedures, requiring two not overly long appointments. The implant process takes a few months.
The goal of having a bridge is to replace one or more missing teeth. This completes your smile once again, and it gives you the benefits described above for replacing missing teeth. It keeps your adjacent teeth in place and allows you to eat a full diet.
What are the disadvantages to Dental Bridges?
Compared to a dental implant, replacing a single tooth or even two teeth with a bridge has certain disadvantages. Bridges are more fragile than implants, as they can break when the person eats really hard foods. They can also dislodge when eating sticky foods (although Dr. Wiitala can cement the bridge back down should this happen).
The other main disadvantage to a bridge is its lifespan. Dental implants are generally considered to be lifetime replacements, meaning they will typically last the remainder of the patient’s life. Bridges usually last from 5 to 15 years, depending on the patient’s choice of foods and home hygiene. They can last longer, but most people will need a bridge replaced at least once.
Other types of bridges
The bridge we described above is a traditional bridge. Dr. Wiitala also uses two other types of bridges depending on patient needs.
- Cantilever bridges — When there are healthy teeth on just one side of the missing teeth, a cantilever bridge is used. Two crowns are placed on the one side and the bridge in this case is more akin to a balcony.
- Maryland bridges — These bridges are typically used on the front teeth. Maryland bridges don’t use crowns as anchors. Instead, bands are cemented to the back surfaces of the supporting teeth.
Is getting a Dental Bridge painful?
There really isn’t any discomfort when Dr. Wiitala is preparing your teeth for your bridge or when placing it. Local anesthetic is used when the teeth are shaved down to make room for the crowns.
How long will my bridge last?
Dental bridges have a varying lifespan from five to 15 years, but they can last longer. The health of the abutment teeth is usually the determinant. With good home hygiene, bridges can last a long time.