Dental Bridges and When You May Need One

When, for any number of reasons, you may lose a permanent tooth, an empty space between the remaining teeth will occur.  To leave that space empty can create problems by making it difficult to chew when eating, or even difficult to speak clearly.  Worse yet, the empty space is an invitation to surrounding teeth to begin to shift in their location as your body tries to fill in the now toothless gap.

There are many ways to “bridge” this gap ranging from a dental implant to a removable bridge or partial denture.  In between are various types of fixed bridges which can also be used to provide a new chewing surface where one has gone missing.

Types of Dental Bridges Which Are NOT Removable

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Cantilever Bridge on Front Teeth


Cantilever BridgeThe cantilever bridge is used predominately on the front teeth and due to chewing pressure is generally not considered appropriate for use in the molar area.  When one of the front teeth is missing, a match is made for the remaining front tooth and is bonded directly to the remaining tooth.  This will have the best appearance and no metal will show on the surrounding support teeth.



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Fixed Bridge

Fixed-Bridge:   This is the most common type bridge and will be used in between two teeth which are healthy and strong.  This permanent bridge is anchored between the healthy teeth which will be reduced in size and a crown fitted on to each of the healthy teeth.  As pictured, the two surrounding crowns will be bonded to the false “bridge” tooth in between and affixed on to the healthy surrounding teeth.

These are very stable and strong bridges and can last for a very long time.  The Fixed Bridge is also higher in price as it requires much precise work.




Maryland or Resin Bonded Bridge

Bonded BridgeThe bonded bridge is very similar to the Fixed Bridge but requires less work and thus costs less.  There must be two healthy teeth on either side of the gap, as a metal wire will encircle and be bonded to the adjacent teeth to anchor the “bridge” tooth.  The metal may show when a person smiles or talks depending upon where the bridge is located.  This type bridge is best suited for teeth which will not be in the heavy, chewing molar area.

If the surrounding teeth are not healthy because of old fillings, cracks, or any other damage, the Fixed Bridge procedure will be performed.  New crowns will be placed on the surrounding teeth instead of the metal wires or wings being used to anchor the new tooth.

Removable Bridge or Partial Denture

The least expensive alternative is the removable bridge or partial denture.  The patient can remove and clean this type bridge, however it is not the strongest bridge and can become uncomfortable if it rubs your gums in the wrong way.  This is least stable and patients frequently have problems adapting to it or have changes in their gums which may require a refitting or an entirely new one to be necessary.  Patients frequently complain about discomfort while eating and sometimes when trying to speak.

However, removable bridges are cosmetically appealing and are certainly better than not filling the gap and allowing the remaining teeth to shift.  Affordability makes these bridges more popular that some of the others.

Should you become a candidate for a bridge, talk with Dr. Gehrig about what type bridge would best suit your needs.  He will be happy to discuss the pros and the cons of getting a bridge and the why bridges are sometimes necessary to maintain your best dental health.


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Veneers, What Are They?

Made from tooth-colored materials, veneers cover the front of the teeth to give them a natural look.  Veneers are thin shells placed over the teeth and bonded to them.  This process is irreversible, so when you are having a complete restoration, it is advisable to see mock ups of how these new “teeth” will look before you move forward with the final procedure.  For simply covering a damaged or discolored tooth, the process is very straightforward and requires little preparation.  Your repaired tooth will match your other teeth just as it did before it was damaged.


Why Would Veneers Be Needed?

Veneers are needed when teeth become severely worn or have been damaged in some way from a minor injury which may have chipped or cracked a tooth.  Many people’s teeth are significantly worn by age, and they would like to return their teeth to their original state and veneers are designed to do exactly that.

Of course, for those whose teeth are naturally dark or misshaped, veneers can give them a bright and more natural looking appearance.  This is of particular importance to those who find themselves in careers which make their appearance critical.  Obviously, models and celebrities come to mind, but studies have shown an attractive appearance is helpful to most all people as they interact with others.

How Do I Take Care of Veneers?

Veneers require only that you care for your teeth just as you normally would.  A non-abrasive toothpaste with flouride is normally best and as always, brush at least twice daily and floss daily.  It is also important for you to maintain your normal, regular visits to your dentist.  In addition, if you habitually clinch your teeth, your dentist may prescribe a night guard to protect your veneers.  He or she will do the same to protect your natural teeth as well.



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