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Bridge the gap in your teeth with a permanent false tooth
A dental bridge is used to replace missing teeth. It is a permanent, fixed alternative to a denture, which is removable. The gap resulting from the missing tooth is filled with a false tooth, which is secured in place by attaching it to the two teeth either side of the space.
Ever since man started loosing teeth he has been trying to replace them. Archaeological evidence shows that the Maya Indians (100-1500AD) tried to replace missing teeth with glass-like obsidian stones. Throughout the 10th and 20th century many different materials have been tried: gold, porcelain, rubber, stainless steel with varied success. Modern bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base to give it extra strength. More recent developments have lead to bridges made entirely of a specially strengthened porcelain, providing a very natural appearance.
Are you a candidate for a dental bridge?
Appearance is not the only reason you should replace missing teeth. A gap in your teeth can put strain on the teeth at either side and cause them to lean into the gap, which can disrupt your ‘bite’ and encourage decay and gum disease. If you have sturdy teeth with good bone support a bridge can form a strong, attractive and secure solution to missing teeth. Unlike dentures, dental bridges are permanently fixed in placed, yet are less invasive than dental implants.
As one patient commented, “After eventually loosing a tooth that had been cracked for many years I was left with a gap on the lower side of my mouth. I could get by but it affected the way I chewed my food, and also I felt that I looked like a tramp with a missing tooth, even though it wasn’t that visible. A bridge gave me a strong bite as well as improving my smile and my self-confidence.”
Having a dental bridge fitted
The two teeth adjacent to the gap are trimmed away to allow supporting crowns to be fitted. This will usually require a local anaesthetic injection. A mould of your teeth will be taken using dental putty. The mould is then sent to a dental laboratory where an accurate model of your teeth can be produced. This will be used to produce the bridge to your precise specification. This takes approximately three weeks during which time your dentist may fit you with a temporary bridge to cover and protect the area being treated. When the new bridge is ready, your dentist will evaluate its fit, colour and how it affects your bite. Once you and your dentist are satisfied, the bridge will be cemented into place.
There are a number of variations on the bridge. As well as the conventional bridge, another commonly used alternative is the Maryland Bridge, also known as the Sticky Bridge. Whereas the conventional bridge sits over the whole of your own teeth, with the adjacent teeth (or tooth) crowned and an extra tooth attached to it, the Maryland bridge uses a metal wing attached to the new tooth and stuck to the back of the adjacent teeth. This is less secure than a conventional bridge, but it requires less disruption to the neighbouring teeth.
After the bridge has been fitted you should treat it like your natural teeth, and brush it every day to avoid tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist can advise you on how to use a special floss (known as Super Floss) to keep the false tooth hygienically clean. The bridge can last 15 years or more, depending on the material it has been made from.
“I had my bridge fitted 8 years ago“, said one man, “and I consider it to be like my own tooth. It looks, feels and acts like a natural tooth, and I look after it in the same way.”
Who should fit your dental bridge?
You should choose a dentist that specialises in cosmetic dental work to fit your bridge. The treatment is available on the NHS costing at least £200 (depending on the type and number of crowns being used), though this is unlikely to offer you the same cosmetic options as a private dentist. Private prices being at around £1,000. This may seem expensive compared to a basic false tooth but it involves considerable skill on the part of the dentist and technicians as well as costly materials. If a dental bridge is something that you are considering, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with your dentist.
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