Bridging the Gap
- Posted on: Aug 15 2019
When a person has a single tooth extracted, some people choose not to replace it with an artificial tooth. After all, it’s just a single tooth, right? An estimated 69% of Americans age 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth.
The problem isn’t necessarily the gap; it’s your other teeth. Just like fans at a packed football game when one person leaves a bleacher row, your teeth move over to fill the empty gap. This causes issues with your bite and overall tooth alignment.
While Dr. Fong believes implants are the best solution to replace missing teeth, sometimes patients prefer the option of a dental bridge. Placing a bridge is a simpler process than placing an implant. Bridges also are less expensive for replacing a series of teeth.
What is a bridge?
A bridge, as the name implies, spans the gap of the missing tooth or teeth, using a crown to anchor it on each side with an artificial tooth (called a pontic) in the middle. The adjacent teeth on each side are the abutment teeth. Bridges can be made of a variety of materials, but the most common bridge materials are porcelain and ceramic fused to metal underneath.
How is a bridge placed?
When Dr. Fong decides the patient is right for a bridge, the first step is to prepare the abutment teeth. He removes some of each of the two abutment teeth to make room for crowns to be placed atop both teeth. We then take dental impressions and send them to our dental lab for fabrication of your bridge. The bridge will be a single piece, with crowns on both sides and the pontic or pontics in between.
When your bridge is finished you return and Dr. Fong checks the fit and the color match of your bridge. If everything looks good, he cements the crowns down onto your abutment teeth and you’re good to go.
Dental bridges can last from 5 to 15 years. The crowns aren’t what break down; it’s the bridge material that wears out over time. When your bridge needs replacing, we probably will be able to use the same crowns on the abutment teeth, as long as the underlying natural teeth are still healthy.
If you have a missing tooth or teeth, call Dr. Fong at (714) 549-1903 and let’s go over your replacement options.