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Dental Bridges in Minneapolis
Missing teeth can be replaced by a dentist using a dental "bridge". Bridges are appropriately named in dentistry because they span the gap between remaining teeth using artificial teeth, much as a real bridge connects two shores over a water body. By placing a dental bridge between the good teeth, the patient achieves two main advantages:
- Cosmetic appeal
- Long term dental stability
Cosmetic advantage of a dental bridge
The dentist eliminates unsightly gaps in the visible teeth by using a dental bridge. The artificial teeth that make up the dental bridge are constructed to look like the original teeth in size, shape and color. When a person with a dental bridge eats, talks or smiles, other people see the dental bridge as the person's natural teeth.
A dental bridge's long term advantage
When missing teeth are not replaced with a dental bridge by a dentist, the long term dental health of the patient is compromised. The teeth and gums of the mouth form a strong, inter-dependent system for eating, talking, and all of are other daily activities in life. When a tooth is removed, this system becomes unbalanced with two main negative effects:
- Movement of surrounding teeth
- Recession of underlying gums
Support of neighboring teeth
Missing teeth no longer support the neighboring teeth. As a consequence, teeth drift into the spaces left by missing teeth, in turn causing a disturbance in the support of their neighboring teeth, as so on. The result is a cycle of any number of teeth being loosened.
Also, when opposing teeth no longer have their counterpart on the lower or upper jaw, then these teeth tend to intrude into the missing space. This intrusion of a tooth into a space disrupts a person's chewing, and weakens the lengthening tooth.
By having a dentist replace a missing tooth with a bridge, the dental system that exists in the mouth is retained, and no disruption occurs in the overall dental health of the mouth.
One of the main purposes of our gums is to hold our teeth in place. When a tooth is remove, the gums no longer have this structure to surround and support, and consequently they tend to debilitate and shrink, a condition known in dentistry as recession. This causes the area around the missing tooth to devitalize.
Disadvantages of a bridge
A dental bridge unfortunately does not keep underlying gums from receding. The false tooth used in a bridge fills the gap created by the missing tooth, but it does not go down into the gums to give them something to surround.
Also, a dental bridge requires that the two supporting teeth be "prepped". Prepping — as it is known in dentistry — involves removing some of each tooth's surface by the dentist so that the bridge's supporting structure can be placed over them. In essence this means teeth — that themselves may not have any dental problems — must be prepared to accept the bridge, which is a distinct disadvantage in dentistry.
Overcoming the bridge's disadvanges
In most cases, a dental implant is a better overall solution to a missing tooth than a dental bridge. A dental implant fills the space created by a missing tooth as does a dental bridge, but it also gives the surrounding gums an artifial structure to hold onto and support. Consequently, dental implants avert both the drifting of teeth and gum recession.
Dental implants are more expensive than dental bridges, but have better results for the above mentioned reasons. Moreover, the neighboring teeth do not require any "prepping" whatsoever, and thus can be left in their natural state.
Is a dental bridge the right solution for you?
As a part of our comprehensive dental care strategy, each of our dental patients knows the exact state of his or her mouth, as well as the individualized plan developed to bring the patient to the best state of oral health possible. At each step along the way, the dentist and the patient go over all the options for care at that step in the process. A dental bridge may be the best solution for many dental and financial reasons.
Read more on dental bridges from the American Dental Association