When it comes to maintaining your smile and a healthy mouth overall, a missing tooth can interfere in more ways than one. Not only will it affect your look and potentially lower your confidence, causing you to smile less often, but it can also affect the surrounding teeth and their functionality.
Essentially, a missing tooth can lead to a weakening of the mouth structure, creating difficulties in the way you eat and speak. The remaining adjacent teeth often begin to shift overtime into the empty space, and this shifting can severely weaken your bite and leave you with aching jaws, headaches, and more.
There is a beneficial solution for these missing teeth, however, and it is in the form of a dental bridge. If you’re wondering what exactly a dental bridge is, and how many teeth it can replace, we answer these questions and more below.
What Exactly is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is essentially a synthetic (artificial) tooth attached to the adjacent teeth. These adjacent teeth serve as support for the artificial tooth, securing it in place so you can return to smiling confidently and also prevent shifting and preserve your bite.
The artificial tooth itself can be made of different materials, such as ceramic or porcelain bonded to a metal alloy. The supporting teeth on each side can be your natural teeth but are often crowns themselves.
Your dentist will use a bonding element or cement to hold the dental bridge in place, bridging the gap between teeth. Then, once the dental bridge is secured, you can return to eating, speaking, and smiling with ease and confidence.
The benefits of a dental bridge, besides the filling in of an empty space and preventing teeth from shifting, are that it can re-adjust an already affected bite and help maintain the natural shape of your face. It can also limit the risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
How Many Teeth Can a Dental Bridge Replace?
A dental bridge effectively restores a gap of one missing tooth but more commonly serves as a solution to replacing two, three, or four teeth in a row.
Any more than four teeth and the stability of the dental bridge is threatened, making it less efficient or dependable. One potential way around this is to first start with dental implants on the stabilizing teeth on each end. These implants are a good solution when a person’s natural teeth are not strong enough to hold the dental bridge in place.
To know what will work for you, however, start by consulting with your dentist to learn about the possibilities and what steps you’ll need to take to ensure a dental bridge will serve your best interests.
How Do You Take Care of a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge doesn’t require removal for cleaning, and you need not worry about it slipping, which is often the case with dentures. It will, however, need replacing at some point, usually between 5-15 years, depending on your dental hygiene practices.
Meanwhile, taking care of your dental bridge is similar to taking care of your natural teeth. Once it is secured in place, you can keep it looking and functioning at its best by following these steps.
Brush twice per day using a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove tartar and plaque that can build up along the gum line and surrounding teeth.
Floss between your natural teeth, or crowns, each day, keeping them healthy so they can continue to support the dental bridge efficiently.
Regularly clean out the area underneath the dental bridge. Since the bridge does not connect all the way down into your gum, the resulting gap can trap food particles or other mouth debris. Try using dental picks or other recommended implements to ensure you can reach the area adequately.
Schedule bi-annual dental appointments so your dentist can examine the dental bridge and supporting teeth, and also conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire area.
Other precautions you can take to maintain the life of a dental bridge is to avoid biting down on or chewing hard objects, such as ice, candy, and nuts. While dental bridges consist of strong and durable materials, like natural teeth, they can still fracture under extreme pressure.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health Today to Find Out More About Dental Bridges
When it comes to choosing the best solutions for missing teeth, dental bridges are high up on the list. With them, you can not only restore a confident smile but also protect and improve the functionality of your bite and restore normal eating and speaking abilities.
The team at Lifetime Dental Health proudly offers dental bridges for our patients to restore missing teeth and help them get back to enjoying life. Contact our Columbus office today to learn more and find out how dental bridges can work for you.