Teeth can be thought of in two parts; the crown, which is the part above the gum line, and the root, which is below it. When a person loses a tooth, a bridge can be used to fill in the gap with an artificial crown called a pontic tooth. The pontic is attached to the teeth on the side of the gap and has no implant to provide it with an artificial root. This means that a bridge restores bite and speaking function and the appearance of the patient’s mouth, but will not restore the strength of the jaw bone that was lost when the root was removed.
Dentists have come to prefer implants to bridges for replacing a single tooth not only because bridges don’t restore roots, but because they require the reshaping of teeth adjacent to the gap into anchors. Dr. Kristi Chiang will file the teeth into cylindrical abutments, and then take a mold of the patient’s mouth to use as the basis for the new crowns. The artificial crowns will be manufactured linked together, with the outer, anchoring crowns being cemented over the reshaped teeth. During the weeks it takes to manufacture the permanent bridge, patients will wear a temporary bridge.
While dentists are reluctant to reshape healthy teeth, they may be more willing to reshape teeth which have a large number of old fillings, had root canals, or which need new crowns anyway for other reasons. The bridge does not strengthen the jaw, but it does help keep the other teeth in alignment. Our hygienists can teach patients how to thread floss under the bridge to keep it clean, and with proper care, bridgework can last for over a decade. Bridges are also cheaper than implants, don’t require surgery, and don’t require nearly as much recovery time.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at our Anaheim, CA office, please call us at 714-535-4850 or visit www.gentlesmilesanaheim.com