A bridge is one of the most common ways to restore the function of a lost tooth. A bridge is essentially a new tooth often made from ceramic or porcelain. The bridge itself is not anchored directly into the gum tissue. Instead it is held in place by crowns anchored to the two surrounding teeth.
Without a bridge in place the surrounding teeth can begin to rotate or move to fill the gap, which results in a bad bite, which can lead to other problems including tooth fractures and gum disease.
The two crowns anchoring the bridge are called abutments. The dentist will remove some of the enamel leaving a healthy stub or post shape around the dentin and root of the tooth. Your dentist will then make an impression of the abutments before fitting them with a temporary crown. The impression is sent off to a dental laboratory where a permanent bridge is then made.
Your dentist will usually schedule a follow up appointment a few weeks later to fit the final permanent bridge in place.
The bridge has the potential to last the rest of your life, assuming the abutment teeth remain healthy. Regular brushing and flossing help reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. Left unchecked for too long it can lead to bone loss in the teeth anchoring the bridge. This can cause the bridge to fail.
Many people with bridges will seek out inter-dental cleaners to help remove food particles and plaque from the area. Inter-dental brushes are essentially just small narrow brushes designed to help remove plaque and food particles from gaps between teeth.
Oral irrigators and dental water jets use a small stream of water to help gently remove food debris from between teeth and around the bridge. There is some debate about the overall effectiveness of oral irrigators compares to flossing unaltered teeth.
If you have questions about getting a bridge or how to maintain healthy gums for an existing bridge please feel free to call us at 619.422.5317 to schedule an appointment.