Bridge and Dentures

Replacing missing teeth improves your ability to chew and digest food.

Teeth replacement can also preserve or transform your appearance with a healthy, full smile. Replacing missing teeth also helps prevent the shifting and tilting of the teeth next to an empty space. This empty space becomes a welcome host to periodontal disease and bone loss.

Bridges and dentures can be used to replace a missing tooth or series of teeth.

What is a Bridge?

A bridge is made to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges can be supported in any of three ways:

  • By natural teeth
  • By implants
  • By a combination of teeth and implants

How Does a Bridge Work?

When just a few teeth are missing, all in a row, and there are healthy teeth on each end of the gap, a non-removable restoration can be made in the form of a fixed bridge. The two end teeth are reduced so that crowns can be placed over them. Artificial teeth are fabricated to fill the gap. This set of false teeth is affixed to the crowns on each end. One or both of the crowns may be supported by an implant crown, a crown placed over an implant abutment.

Traditional bridges are made either of porcelain fused to metal (PFM) or ceramics. There are other types of bridges, as well. A cantilever bridge is held in the mouth by one or more crowns on only one side of the space where a tooth is missing. A Maryland bonded bridge consists of a metal framework with “wings” on each side. The wings are bonded to the back of your existing teeth. The false teeth are also bonded to the framework.

Getting a bridge normally requires between two to three visits. At the first visit, your dentist prepares the teeth and covers them with temporary crowns. The dentist may also make impressions of the teeth. The bridge is adjusted and placed at later visits. On average, bridges last five to seven years. A major reason bridges fail is new cavities developing on the supporting teeth. With proper hygiene, which includes flossing your teeth under the bridge, your bridge can last longer.

What is a Denture?

Dentures are replacements for missing teeth that can be taken out and put back into your mouth. While dentures take some getting used to, and will never feel exactly the same as one’s natural teeth, today’s dentures are natural looking and more comfortable than ever.

There are three main types of dentures: full, partial and implant supported.

  • Full denture
    The traditional set of false teeth: uppers, lowers, or both.
  • Partial denture
    A few false teeth, attached to a denture base (sometimes flexible, sometimes more rigid) and designed to clip onto healthy teeth. None of your teeth will need be reduced to accommodate crowns.
  • Implant denture
    A partial denture anchored by implants. Also known as “never move dentures”.

How Do Dentures Work?

With full dentures, a flesh-colored acrylic base fits over your gums. The base of the upper denture covers the palate (the roof of your mouth), while that of the lower denture is shaped like a horseshoe to accommodate your tongue. Dentures are custom-made in a dental laboratory from impressions taken of your mouth.

Benefits of Dentures

Replacing missing teeth will help to improve your appearance and smile. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, making a person look older. Dentures can help you eat and speak more comfortably.

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