When a person has a severely damaged or missing tooth, their quality of life is greatly affected. While their smile may not be as beautiful as they’d like, they also are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, discomfort when eating or speaking, as well as poor oral health. If this describes you, the compassionate dental team at Carraway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry can help. With our affordable tooth replacement options, such as a porcelain dental bridge, you can restore the health and beauty of your smile in a comfortable, professional environment. Here’s everything you need to know about porcelain bridges before scheduling a consultation with Dr. Carraway and our experienced team in Greer, SC.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Dental bridges are dental restorations that help replace multiple missing teeth. Dr. Adam Carraway offers dental bridge treatment at Carraway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Greer, SC. He works with a local dental lab to ensure that dental bridges are precise and comfortable for patients. Dr. Carraway can also provide implant-secured dental bridges for longer-lasting results. There are many benefits to replacing missing teeth, particularly multiple teeth. Learn why it is important to restore missing teeth and the dental bridges below.
A dental bridge is a cosmetic tooth replacement that is made up of two or more dental crowns, also known as abutment teeth, that act as anchors that support a prosthetic tooth, known as a pontic, in between them. A pontic is made from a type of high-strength porcelain called Zirconia, and can be supported by natural teeth or dental implants. There are three main types of dental bridges:
- Traditional: These are the most common type of dental bridge and consist of a dental crown that sits on top of the two natural teeth or dental implants on either side of the pontic.
- Cantilever: These are used when there are only teeth to support the bridge on one side of the pontic. Because of this, they aren’t as strong as a traditional bridge and aren’t recommended for use in the back of a person’s mouth where they could easily be broken.
- Maryland-bonded: These are made of porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or plastic teeth that are supported by porcelain or metal framework that are bonded to surrounding teeth.
Why Would I Need a Dental Bridge?
Dr. Carraway could recommend that a person get a dental bridge for a number of reasons, including:
- A missing tooth
- A severely decayed tooth
- A broken tooth that is not strong enough to support a dental crown on its own
Dental bridges are good options for people who have a missing or significantly damaged tooth between two healthy, natural teeth or dental implants. Just as its name implies, a dental bridge can “bridge” the gap between the healthy teeth or implants with a natural-looking tooth replacement.
How Could a Dental Bridge Benefit Me?
Dental bridges can help people with missing or damaged teeth regain their quality of life. Some of the many benefits that a dental bridge can bring include:
- Improving the natural appearance of one’s smile
- Making it easier to speak and chew
- Prevent surrounding teeth from shifting
- Promoting good oral health
- Maintaining the person’s proper bite form and facial structure
What to Expect From Your Dental Bridge Procedure
For most people, having a dental bridge placed into your mouth will require more than one visit to our office. Here’s what you can expect during your traditional dental bridge procedure:
- Dr. Carraway numbs the surrounding area of your gums where the bridge will be placed.
- Then, he will prepare the abutment teeth for their dental crowns by smoothing them down and carefully shaping them.
- Next, he will take an impression of your teeth.
- While your permanent bridge is being formed in our state-of-the-art laboratory, a temporary bridge or dental crown will be placed in your mouth until your next appointment.
- After your permanent bridge arrives from the lab, Dr. Carraway will remove your temporary bridge or crown and place your permanent bridge into your mouth, making sure that it fits perfectly and is comfortable.
At Carraway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, your comfort and safety are our highest priority. Having a dental bridge placed in your mouth should be a virtually painless experience. While some swelling or discomfort may occur after the procedure, be sure to contact us if these symptoms do not resolve quickly or cannot be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
How Should I Care for My Dental Bridge?
To keep your dental bridge in good condition for many years, practicing good oral hygiene habits is essential. Along with properly caring for your dental bridge, it’s important to keep the surrounding teeth that are supporting it healthy as well. Damage to the abutment teeth could lead to more serious oral health concerns, including a broken dental bridge. To help your dental bridge stay in tip-top shape, be sure to:
- Brush two times a day with a soft electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Floss or use a water pick once a day, being sure to carefully clean under and around your dental bridge
- Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash daily
- Use a water flosser, such as a WaterPik, to clean the teeth and gums underneath the bridge
- Eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and limit your sugar intake
- Visit the dentist every six months for routine exams and professional cleanings
- Avoid eating hard, sticky, and/or chewy foods, such as ice, caramel, and popcorn
- Don’t use tobacco
How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?
With good oral hygiene, it’s not uncommon for dental bridges to last well past ten years.
What Happens If I Don’t Get a Dental Bridge?
If you are living with a severely damaged or missing tooth, seeking professional dental care sooner rather than later is critical. Dental problems will not resolve on their own or get better on their own. On the contrary, damaged and missing teeth can put you at risk of experiencing discomfort, affecting your appearance and self-esteem, and can lead to serious oral health conditions, such as infection. With this in mind, it’s never a good idea to postpone or avoid having a damaged or missing tooth restored with a prosthetic replacement. Other quick tooth replacement options include:
- Dental implants
- Partial dentures
Dr. Carraway can help determine which tooth replacement option would best suit your needs and create a personalized treatment plan to restore the health and beauty of your smile as quickly as possible.
Why Replace Missing Teeth?
Even one missing tooth can impact the health of your entire mouth. When you’re missing a tooth, the other teeth in your mouth are more likely to develop tooth decay. You’re also more likely to suffer from gum disease. The other teeth in your mouth will move and shift to try to fill the gap that your missing teeth have left. If you’ve had treatment to straighten your teeth previously, you’ll probably need to have it again after you have missing teeth.
Missing teeth make your bite uneven as well. The pressure of your bite coming together isn’t evenly distributed throughout your teeth. Some teeth take on more pressure than others. Because of this extra pressure, those teeth are more likely to break or chip. An uneven bite leads to TMJ disorders, too. The jaw joint doesn’t track in the right way anymore, and you can experience pain and problems with function.
Traditional Dental Bridges
Traditional dental bridges can be fixed or removable. They replace a single tooth or multiple consecutive missing teeth. Some bridges have metal portions that clip over your teeth, and others are cemented in place. Traditional bridges use your natural teeth to act as anchors on either side of them. Usually, we recommend fortifying anchor teeth with dental crowns. Anchor teeth experience wear and tear and are more likely to suffer from other oral health problems. Dental crowns take on the pressure from supporting the dental bridge, so you avoid damage to your natural teeth.
Traditional bridges are a faster and cheaper option than implant-supported bridges. But they do come with some downsides. With traditional bridges, you may have to remove certain foods from your diet because the bridge won’t be able to process them. Because the jawbone continues to deteriorate, it’s likely that you’ll have to adjust or replace your bridge at least once in your lifetime, leading to extra costs.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridges
Dental implants are artificial roots that can be utilized in multiple ways to achieve various functional results. In some situations, an implant bridge is the most cost-effective treatment option. For example, if a patient misses three teeth, an implant crown option would require three dental implants and three crowns. Two implants could be placed with a three-tooth bridge as a more affordable option. In this scenario, the patient saved money by having two implants rather than three. Every case is unique, and many factors include bone density, bone availability, and bite force. In the right situations, implant bridges can be an excellent treatment option.
Instead of your natural teeth anchoring the bridge, we use dental implants to support it. With this option, you get all the benefits of dental implants. The implant posts spur on jawbone regeneration, so the bone stops deteriorating. While implant-supported bridges are more expensive, you don’t incur extra costs in the long run. Without your bone structure changing, you shouldn’t need to have your restoration adjusted or replaced.
Implants give you back 100% of your bite function, too. You don’t have to eliminate any foods from your diet because the restoration can process them. This option allows you to avoid putting extra stress on your natural teeth or needing to remove tooth structure to prepare the tooth for a dental crown.
How does a Dental Bridge compare to Dental Implants?
Every smile is unique, so talking with one of the experienced dentists at Carraway Dental about your dental goals is the best way to find out which solution would be best for you. In many cases, a dental implant might be the best long term option for a few reasons:
- Dental implants don’t get cavities
- Dental implants don’t require adjustments to the teeth next to them
- Dental implants can be easier to keep clean because you can floss in between an implant and the adjacent tooth
However, dental bridges have advantages over dental implants in some patients:
- Dental bridges don’t require as much surgery as a dental implant
- Dental bridges can be a quicker process
- Dental bridges can be more affordable than dental implants
Because each option ahs its own set of advantages and disadvantages, it is important for patients to discuss their individual goals with their provider so that they can make an informed choice. The best way to make a decision like this is to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each option.
The Dental Bridge Process in Greer, SC
The process of getting a dental bridge depends on the method you choose. Anchor teeth are prepared to fit dental crowns for a traditional bridge. An impression is made of your mouth so that the custom dental bridge can be made to fit perfectly. When it’s ready, the bridge is checked to ensure it fits properly and cements it into your mouth if it’s a fixed bridge. We teach you how to brush and floss with your restoration, so you make sure everything is cleaned well.
If the type of bridge you have selected is an implant bridge, then the implant posts have to be surgically placed for an implant-supported bridge. Once this is complete, they require around 3-6 months to heal. We’ll fit you with a temporary restoration while you’re healing from the implant surgery. Once this is done, impressions are taken, and your dental bridge is custom-made to fit the size, shape, and color of the rest of your smile.
Carraway Family & Cosmetic Dentistry Can Help
If you are living with the discomfort and inconvenience that a severely damaged or missing tooth can bring, Carraway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help. With our progressive cosmetic dental treatments, including dental bridges, we can help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile quickly and easily. Schedule a dental consultation with Dr. Carraway for dental bridge treatment in Greer, SC. You can also contact Carraway Family and Cosmetic Dentistry for treatment today at 864.268.7812. Please let Dr. Carraway or a member of his dental team know if you have any questions about your treatment options, and they will be happy to help you.