Bridges – Lake Forest, CA

As much as we try to take care of our dental health, tooth loss happens. Dentists have mastered the art of replacing lost teeth & their toolkits are full of solutions to fit your specific needs.

It is important to understand that replacing a missing tooth is not just about looks. After losing a tooth, the surrounding teeth can shift out of place & it may become difficult for you to bite, chew & speak. The resulting bone shifting can even affect your overall facial structure.

Dental bridges are designed to replace a missing tooth & to stabilize the teeth on either side of the gap. There are few types of bridges available, but in most cases, bridges consist of a fake tooth (known as a pontic) that is supported by one or more neighboring teeth. Unlike a dental implant, a tooth replaced by a bridge is not directly rooted in your jaw, but is instead attached to nearby teeth.

The most common kind of dental bridge is called a traditional bridge. This is a pontic tooth attached to two dental crowns that will cover the adjacent teeth. In order to fit the crowns over the other teeth, the dentist needs to file them down. The crowns (sometimes called abutments) are placed over your reshaped teeth & secured with a composite bonding resin.

A cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, but the pontic only attaches to one abutment instead of two. Because it is only secured on one side, this bridge is mostly used for teeth in the very back of your mouth.

The last kind of bridge is called a Maryland bridge. Instead of using crowns to secure the pontic, a Maryland bridge uses metal or porcelain bands that attach to nearby teeth with bonding resin. The main benefit of this method is that none of your teeth need to be filed down. The downside is that they are weaker than a traditional bridge & may not be suitable to replace molars, which put a lot more strain on the bridge when chewing.

Getting a dental bridge is more involved than your average cleaning. If you’ve gotten a dental crown in the past, getting a bridge will be a pretty similar experience for you. It will take more than one appointment to prepare your teeth & place the bridge. If you need any dental work done on the supporting teeth, such as a filling or root canal, this must happen beforehand. Once any necessary treatment is complete, the dentist will remove enamel from the supporting teeth to make room for the abutment crowns. They will make a mold of the area & send it to a lab that will craft your own personalized bridge. This normally takes a few weeks. While you wait for your custom restoration, you will be given a temporary bridge. At the final appointment, the dentist will place your permanent bridge & make any necessary adjustments.

How long your bridge lasts depends on how well you take care of it. If properly cared for, a dental bridge can last well over 10 years. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, cleaning underneath the pontic, & coming in for regular teeth cleanings & maintenance will ensure the longest lifespan for your bridge

Implant-Supported Bridge

For patients who have lost more than one tooth, an implant-supported bridge offers a secure & permanent solution. An implant-supported bridge is a replacement for several teeth that is secured permanently to dental implants. The number of implants used to secure the bridge varies depending on the patient’s situation, but a common configuration is two implants supporting three teeth: two “cap” teeth on either end bridged by another tooth in the middle.

Getting an implant-supported bridge takes several appointments. The first step is the placement of dental implants. After initial placement, it usually takes several months for the bone & gums around the implants to heal. Once implant sites are headed, the dentist will take impressions of your mouth in order to make a mold. Using the resulting model of your teeth, the lab technician will create your custom crown, color matched to your existing teeth. While the lab technician works on the final bridge, you may be fitted with a temporary bridge. Once the final bridge arrives the dentist will either screw or cement it in place on the implants.

Replacing missing or rotten teeth is essential to keeping your mouth healthy in the long run. A missing tooth can cause more trouble than just an unsightly gap in your smile. Tooth loss can cause your remaining teeth to shift around the gap, changing the alignment of your smile & even causing changes in your facial aesthetics.

While a standard dental bridge can prevent most tooth-loss-related problems, an implant-supported bridge has several advantages. Traditional bridges rely on adjacent teeth for support. These nominally healthy teeth need to be reshaped before the bridge is secured in place using dental cement. Using implants to secure the bridge instead means that no healthy teeth need to be ground down in order to replace a missing tooth.

Having missing teeth can also affect your ability to chew nutritious foods. Other tooth replacement options, such as removable partial dentures, aren’t as stable as implant-supported bridges. An implant bridge can return the majority of your chewing function so you can eat what you want again.

Dental implants can prevent the continuation of bone loss that occurs when a tooth is removed. When you lose a tooth, the bone in your jaw no longer gets the sensations of pressure from the force of your bite that tell the bone to regenerate. As a result, your body starts to resorb the bone & your jawbone shrinks in that area. With an implant-supported bridge, the implants help your bone feel the force of your bite so your bone stays stimulated. Bone resorption may still occur under the middle of the bridge, but it will be less problematic than bone loss associated with having a removable bridge or no bridge at all.

A fixed implant-supported bridge is a more cost-effective solution that individually replacing each missing tooth with its own implant & crown. However, it is more costly than most removable solutions because if the implant surgery involved. Which treatment you choose to replace missing teeth depends on your individual health & financial situation. We are always happy to discuss all the options with you.