Dental Bridges An Overview
Missing teeth can have a domino effect on your dental health, leading to premature aging in your face and damage to your remaining teeth. The bony ridge where the tooth root once was begins to disintegrate, allowing the bone and gum to shrink and the remaining teeth to shift position. Addressing tooth loss immediately is important and can help to avoid further dental problems.
Sandy Springs dentist Dr. Brenda Paulen offers several options for replacing lost teeth, from crown-style bridges to partial dentures for patients who have lost multiple top or bottom teeth. Dr. Paulen has incorporated some of the latest dental technology into her practice, including the i-Tero intra-oral digital scanner, which enables her to take impressions for dental restorations without using messy and uncomfortable putty trays.
Dr. Paulen will design a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and goals. Our process begins with a comprehensive evaluation to examine the health of the teeth, gums, jaw joints, and other support structures. You may have an existing dental bridge or teeth that need extraction.
Dental Bridges What to Expect
Traditional Dental Bridges
A traditional dental bridge is a metal structure supporting porcelain teeth. Your natural teeth serve as anchors on either side of the dental bridge. Traditional bridges are usually removable, so you take them out when you’re sleeping. They’re a fast and more affordable option when compared to implant-supported bridges.
However, they do come with downsides. If your natural teeth support a bridge, its stress takes a toll on them. They’re more likely to wear down faster and are more susceptible to conditions like tooth decay. Typically, we remedy this by placing dental crowns on both of the anchor teeth. They take on the stress of the bridge instead of your natural teeth. We do have to remove a decent amount of existing tooth structure to make room for the crown, though.
It can be difficult to eat a balanced diet with traditional bridges. You may need to take the bridge out when you eat certain foods or risk breaking the bridge when you’re biting down. Traditional, removable bridges don’t give you back your full bite function because they don’t replace the tooth root. You’ll also need adjustments or replacements for the bridge in the future because the fit will change as your jawbone does. It starts to deteriorate when you lose the tooth root.
Traditional bridges only take a few weeks for the entire process. We take impressions of your mouth and send them to a top dental lab so they can custom-make the bridge. Dr. Paulen works with several of the top dental laboratories in the United States. When it’s done, we fit the bridge at our office and make small adjustments to fit it perfectly.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridges
An implant-supported bridge is one that stays fixed in your mouth and isn’t removable. Instead of relying on your natural teeth to serve as anchors, the bridge is anchored by dental implants instead. We recommend this solution whenever possible because it has various health benefits only dental implants can provide. However, the process of getting an implant-supported bridge is longer and more expensive upfront.
Dental implants are the only solution that replaces the tooth root. Even though it’s not replacing every single tooth with an implant, they still help your mouth. The jawbone won’t continue deteriorating, so you won’t have to adjust or replace the restoration. It also gives you back close to your entire bite function. You can keep eating all your favorite foods and not worry about them damaging your restoration.
The process of getting an implant-supported bridge is a little bit longer. We start with a surgical procedure to place dental implant posts in your jawbone. You must wait around 3-6 months for them to heal and fully fuse with the jawbone. We can craft the bridge and have it fitted only when this process is complete. It also costs more upfront, but you don’t have surprise costs down the line because your restoration no longer fits.