A missing tooth can cause a wide variety of problems. From a shrinking jawbone, to receding gums, to weakened teeth that are adjacent to the gap, to a buildup of plaque to an increased risk of gum disease to crowded and crooked teeth, a missing tooth can wreak havoc on your oral health and your overall health. Dental bridges or implants can help. Smile Boutique in Winchester, Massachusetts can offer a dental bridge to fill in the gap left by the missing tooth in order to restore your smile and avoid the many oral health problems that can result from not fixing a missing tooth.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
Bridges replace missing teeth and fill the space they once occupied. These custom-made solutions to missing teeth, which can be made from metal, ceramics, or a mixture of both metal and ceramic, are mounted to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth and are bonded to the mouth.
What Type of Dental Bridge Do We Use?
Traditional bridges are made from porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. A crown is created for the teeth on both sides of the gap with a pontic (an artificial tooth) in between. Cantilever bridges are used when there’s only one adjacent tooth. Maryland bonded bridges are made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic, while a metal or porcelain framework supports the gums. The wings on the side of the bridge are bonded to existing teeth so the bridge stays in place.
At Smile Boutique, we use strong, natural-looking bridges that are anchored by crowns on the adjacent teeth. These fixed bridges help restore function and appeal to your smile.
When Should You Get a Bridge Instead of Implants?
While implants may last longer, there are several situations where you might consider getting a bridge instead of implants, as they offer a wide variety of benefits over implants.
You Need a Solution Fast
Dental bridges can be installed much more quickly than dental implants, so this is an excellent choice if you need a solution to missing teeth fast. Maybe you have a wedding coming up or family photos are scheduled in two months. Bridges generally take a few weeks, while implants often take five to nine months. However, you will usually need two visits spaced a couple of weeks apart for a bridge.
In the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. They are recontoured so a crown can be placed over them. Impressions of the teeth are made so a dental lab can have a model to design the bridge, pontic, and crowns. You may receive a temporary bridge to wear while the customized bridge is being made. In the second, the new bridge will be placed, checked, and adjusted. If it’s a fixed bridge, your dentist might temporarily cement it in place to ensure that everything fits.
You Have Had a Failed Implant
Sometimes implants are not the best choice, but you and your dentist may not realize this until after the implant has failed. The bone might not fuse sufficiently to the metal implant, so the bone will need to be cleaned up before repeating the process three months later. The implant site may also become compromised.
A compromised implant site can result in pathological bone loss or peri-implantitis (where the area is inflamed and negatively affects the soft and hard tissues surrounding the dental implant). In this case, trying a dental bridge instead of another dental implant might be beneficial and result in fewer problems.
You Need an Extensive Grafting Procedure
Some people are not ideal candidates for receiving dental implants without first undergoing grafting procedures for the jawbone or the gums. More extensive grafting procedures have a higher risk of graft and/or implant rejection, which can cost more money and be an incredibly frustrating experience.
You Do Not Have Enough Bone for an Implant
If you have been missing the tooth for a longer period of time, your jaw bone may have begun to decay to the point where it can no longer support an implant. The part of the jaw that once supported the tooth can deteriorate and weaken once the tooth is lost, and you may need to receive a bone graft to build volume in the jaw to support an implant.
However this process is lengthy, as it usually takes at least three months for the grafted bone to fuse with the existing bone and gain enough strength to support an implant. During this time, your teeth may drift, which can cause pain and further oral health issues. If you don’t have enough bone for an implant and you don’t want to receive a bone graft, getting a bridge is a much simpler process.
Your Gum Height Is Low
People with receding gums may need to receive a gum graft before getting dental implants, which can add to their costs. It will also add to the amount of time they will have a gap in their teeth and the time their teeth will have to drift and potentially create new, more serious problems. Receiving dental implants may also further hurt the gum line. In cases like this, it might be best to consider getting bridges instead of dental implants.
You Want Something Small and Lightweight
Bridges are smaller and lighter than dental implants, which leads to a faster adjustment period. This lighter weight means that your bridges will be more convenient and comfortable to use while speaking and chewing.
You Do Not Want a Long Recovery Time
In dental implants, the preparatory treatments like bone grafting or extractions need to be fully healed before the titanium post can be placed and then the gum needs to heal over the implant while the jawbone fuses with the implant which can take six weeks to six months. This may be followed by another session which involves creating a new incision in the gum and further healing times meaning that getting dental implants requires lots of recovery time.
While receiving dental implants is accompanied by several periods of healing throughout the process (and can be a lengthy process), the recovery process for receiving bridges is quick and involves minimal effort. It generally takes patients seven to ten days to return to their normal diets.
You Do Not Want to Undergo Surgery
Getting dental implants involves getting invasive surgery, but some people may not be capable of undergoing surgical procedures due to their health conditions.
For example, people with cancer, diabetes, or an auto-immune disease are often not recommended to undergo large surgical procedures unless it’s absolutely necessary. People taking certain medications might also not be able to undergo large surgical procedures so getting a bridge instead of a dental implant may be a good solution.
You Do Not Want to Receive General Anesthesia
Receiving general anesthesia can strain the body and comes with more potential risks and complications as sedation can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, sore throats, blood pressure changes, pain, and more serious complications with patients who have complex, serious medical conditions or allergic reactions.
People with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, lung condition, obstructive sleep apnea, and seizures may have a higher risk associated with receiving general anesthesia.
Dental bridge placement is not a surgical procedure, so you will not need to be completely sedated, though you may receive a mild sedation for comfort and increased relaxation. You will usually receive a topical numbing gel before receiving an injection of local anesthetic directly into your gums, so you won’t feel any pain during the process.
Your Dentist Suggests That Bridges Might Be a Better Option
It is important to consider your dentist’s recommendations as they are experts in the field and have been trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems through formal schooling and previous experience.
A dentist may suggest getting bridges over dental implants for a variety of individual reasons or a combination of different factors may result in a recommendation for bridges.
Your Insurance Covers Dental Bridges
Your insurance company may cover bridges but not dental implants, which may make getting bridges make more sense.
If you don’t have insurance, receiving dental implants is generally more expensive than receiving bridges, so if you need your gap to be filled as soon as possible and don’t have savings set aside for covering a dental implant, getting a bridge might be a good choice. The longer the gap remains, the higher possibility there is of developing more serious problems like drifting teeth, pain, decay, and gum disease, so it is important to fix this problem quickly.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Having a Dental Bridge?
Having a bridge can help ensure that your face keeps its natural shape. Without a bridge, you may experience facial collapse. Your lips will appear thin and flattened while the chin will move forward and upward, giving it a pointed appearance, and pouches on both sides of the lower jaw may become more pronounced. Cracks and sores may also develop at the corners of the mouth without a tooth replacement.
Bridges can also restore your bite and your smile as teeth often drift or tilt into the space that the missing tooth used to occupy. This movement can shift your bite and alter your smile, which will place more stress on your teeth and jaw joints. Teeth that have drifted can cause pain and more damage and are more difficult to clean which brings a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Bridges will help properly distribute the forces in your bite and stop other teeth from drifting.
Find Out More
Addressing dental problems before they become more serious is an important part of preventing future oral health issues and can help ensure that your overall health remains at the best it can be. Thanks to the quick process of installing bridges, this solution can help you avoid future serious oral health problems and can ensure that you look and feel your best as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or are looking for a second opinion, schedule a free consultation with us at Smile Boutique in Winchester, Massachusetts. Our team of professionals is happy to help you decide whether a dental bridge is the right choice for you or whether one of the other solutions we offer may be better suited to help you. We put our patients first and will carefully listen to your concerns to make the best recommendation for your personal situation.