If you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist may have replaced the missing tooth with a dental bridge. This is one of the most common ways to restore proper function and aesthetics in the mouth, especially when just a single tooth needs to be replaced.
A dental bridge is comprised of a cap or crown that is fabricated to fit in the space left vacant by a tooth that has fallen out or has been pulled. The replacement tooth, or pontic, is kept in place by way of an apparatus which attaches the replacement to adjoining teeth. The adjoining teeth also have crowns placed on them, even though they may have been healthy teeth, in order to hold the bridge in place. In order to place the crowns over these teeth, the teeth must be ground down to what is called an abutment.
If there are no healthy teeth surrounding the tooth that needs to be replaced, a dental implant may be used instead of an adjoining natural tooth to serve as the abutment for the bridge. If just a single tooth needs to be replaced, this implant may take the place of the bridge, but if more than one tooth needs to be replaced, then the implant may be used to hold in position a series of teeth and then this is considered to be a partial denture.
No matter how your dental bridge is attached in the mouth, whether to a surrounding set of healthy teeth, a single healthy tooth (called a cantilever bridge) or an implant, it is important that you take good care of your teeth and gums to preserve your oral health, the longevity of the bridge and the surrounding natural teeth.
To do this, the first thing you need to do is to stick to a stringent schedule of routine daily care. This means that you must brush your teeth, including the bridge, at least twice per day (morning and before bed), and preferably after eating as well. You should also floss daily between all teeth to ensure that any debris is removed from between teeth so that it does not lead to decay or the growth of bacteria.
Since a dental bridge sits above the gums and therefore leaves a very small space between the bottom of the false tooth or teeth and the gumline, it is also important to floss under the bridge to remove any particles that may potentially become stuck and can lead to problems with your gums. To do this, you will need to use a special type of dental floss called a flosser, which will make it easier for you to guide the floss under the pontic.
The best way to care for a bridge is to keep the teeth surrounding it healthy and strong, so the same methods that should be used around and under the bridge should be used for adjacent teeth. Proper brushing and flossing should also be accompanied by regular trips to the dentist for periodic cleanings and preventative care.
With proper care, you can expect your dental bridge to last approximately 10 – 15 years.
For more information about dental bridges, contact Gentle Dental at 718-461-0100.