Dental experts tell us that 70 percent of all Americans will have lost at least one tooth to gum disease, injury or the aftermath of a root canal by the time they turn 45. If you are one of them, you may be a candidate for a restorative dental prosthetic called a dental bridge.
Dental bridges are oral appliances that fit the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth. Natural teeth or dental implants capped by crowns anchor the bridge in place on either side of the gap. These anchors, called abutments, must be shaped and strengthened by your dentist to provide optimal support for your new bridge. If you and your dentist agree that a dental bridge is the right solution for your dental challenges, he or she will spend a great deal of time contouring these abutments to make sure your bridge fits just right.
Your dentist or your dentist’s assistant will also make a mold of your mouth, which will be sent off to a dental laboratory where trained technicians will craft your bridge so that it’s a precise fit for the shape of your mouth. Bridges are crafted of porcelain, porcelain-bonded metal or gold, depending upon where they sit in the mouth.
The best candidate for a dental bridge is someone who understands the importance of good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth after eating and floss at least once a day. Visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and professional teeth cleanings.
The tight space between the bridge and the gums can be difficult to floss. Fortunately, several products have been designed for the special needs of bridge wearers. Precut floss with tapered ends and a thick middle will help you slip the floss in place and clean the plaque that builds up under the bridge. Floss threaders are also commercially available. With proper care, there’s no reason why your new dental bridge can’t last for the next 15 years.