Exploring Tooth Replacement Options

Your teeth are stronger together. After all, they’re part of a team—they’re meant to work together to accomplish a wide range of jobs while keeping you healthy. Unlike sports teams, however, your adult teeth don’t have spares waiting in the wings. Despite this, modern dentistry treatments ensure that losing an adult tooth isn’t “game over!”

There are several tooth replacement options you can choose from to replace one or more missing teeth and allow your teeth to function as a team again. A dental bridge is one of these options. It fills the gap from a missing tooth or two in your smile, making once-simple tasks easy again and protecting your long-term oral health. Whether you’re missing a tooth or need a tooth extraction soon, finding the right replacement option for you can have a big impact on your daily life.

Thankfully you don’t have to make this decision alone! We’ve compiled an overview of dental bridges to help you choose a replacement option you feel truly confident in.

Reasons To Consider a Dental Bridge

Dental bridges are designed to replace missing teeth, but why is it important to replace them in the first place? A dental bridge might be a good fit if you’re missing one or two teeth, whether due to having a tooth extraction or the tooth falling out by itself. This can happen because of tooth decay, severe gum disease, or injury. It can also replace teeth that never formed or erupted due to a congenital condition. Using a dental bridge to fill the gap in your smile is essential for your long-term oral health. You see, when you lose a tooth, your healthy teeth naturally begin to shift into the gap left behind. The space this creates between your other teeth makes flossing and brushing  much more difficult and increases your risk of cavities and gum disease. Shifting teeth can also change the way your bite fits together, potentially leading to TMJ issues.

When compared to other tooth replacement options, getting a dental bridge is a relatively quick process and generally takes two appointments over the course of several weeks. It’s also comparatively inexpensive, making it worth considering if you’re on a budget or a tight schedule.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

Since your teeth are designed to work as a team, having a missing tooth impacts the function and health of the rest of your teeth. Thankfully dental bridges help resolve most of these issues. Dental bridges are anchored to your remaining healthy teeth, which lend them the stability they need to restore the function of your missing teeth. With a bridge in place, you’ll be able to bite into and chew food easily again. Your teeth also play a role in helping you speak, so a bridge can help restore your ability to speak clearly. Filling the gap in your smile also prevents your remaining teeth from shifting. This protects your long-term oral health by maintaining your bite and ensuring that thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth remains simple.

Dental bridges are typically made of durable porcelain, which can withstand the same daily wear and tear as your natural teeth. Porcelain is easily tinted to match the shade of your natural teeth, allowing your custom-made replacement to look like a natural part of your smile. No one will even realize it’s there! Restoring your naturally beautiful smile can work wonders for your self-esteem and give you the confidence you need to smile wider and more often.

Types of Dental Bridges

Everyone’s treatment needs and preferences are unique, so let’s explore several types of bridges to help ensure that you get the best treatment possible. Traditional fixed bridges are the most common and are probably what you picture when you think of them. They consist of one to two prosthetic teeth with a dental crown on each end. Each crown is cemented in place over a healthy tooth on either end of the gap in your smile. These crowns serve as the foundation for the restoration. Traditional bridges are only effective, however, when you have a healthy tooth on either end of the space you need to fill.

If you only have a healthy tooth on one side of the gap, a cantilever bridge might be a better option for you. This type of bridge consists of a dental crown on one end and a prosthetic tooth on the other. It’s most often used for front teeth since using it to replace back teeth can put too much pressure on the tooth supporting the bridge.

The third type of bridge is a Maryland bridge, which supports one or two prosthetic teeth by metal or porcelain wings bonded to the back of the healthy teeth on either side of the space. This fixes it in place without the need for dental crowns, although it generally lacks the strength of a traditional bridge.

Alternative Options to Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are a great tooth replacement option that allows you to strike a balance between your budget and a strong, long-lasting restoration, but they’re not the only option out there.

Partial dentures allow you to restore missing teeth with few to no procedures on your healthy teeth. Unlike bridges, partial dentures can also restore multiple missing teeth throughout the arch, so they have a little more flexibility compared to bridges. They’re also generally budget friendly. However, they’re not as tightly secured as dental bridges and are higher maintenance because they need to be removed and cleaned daily.

Dental implants are another major tooth replacement option. Out of all options modern dentistry offers, dental implants are the most versatile. Each dental implant consists of a titanium post placed into your jawbone. This new “tooth root” is then topped with a dental restoration—from a dental crown on a single dental implant to a bridge or denture on multiple implants. By mimicking the natural tooth root, dental implants are the only treatment out there that helps prevent the jawbone loss triggered by tooth loss. They also feel incredibly stable—the closest you can get to regaining natural teeth! Dental implants can be rather expensive, however, and require multiple surgical procedures over several months to complete.

If you’re missing one or two teeth, a dental bridge is certainly an option worth considering. They’re a great middle ground between treatments like partial dentures and dental implants: They provide the strength you need with the natural appearance and low-maintenance care you want at a price that won’t break the bank. If you’d like to learn more about dental bridges or other tooth replacement options from your dentist in Greenville, SC, feel free to call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Monroe!