Dental bridges were once exceedingly common as a tooth replacement option. These days, they are not always the go-to as dental implants have become more commonplace. As such, many dental patients do not know very much about bridges. If your dentist has recommended one for you, then you may have a few of the following questions.
How is a bridge attached?
As the name suggests, a bridge attaches to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. It's like a real bridge, stretching over the gap. Most bridges have prongs that go around each of the neighboring teeth. Your dentist secures the prongs with a special type of dental cement, which keeps them in place.
Why does your dentist want to give you a bridge, not an implant?
There are a few reasons why a dentist might recommend a bridge over an implant. The first has to do with the health of your jawbone. If your jaw bone is not healthy, or if you simply have a really thin or small jaw bone, then a dental implant may not "take." This leaves a bridge as the most viable tooth replacement option.
Another possibility is that your overall health would lead to an increased risk of side effects with an implant procedure. Having a dental implant put into place is surgery, after all. If you might experience excessive bleeding or an infection post-surgery, then your dentist will recommend against an implant and instead insert a bridge. The procedure to insert a bridge is non-surgical.
Will people know you have a bridge?
In most cases, bridges can be made to look very normal and natural. The replacement tooth is ceramic and tooth-colored. The prongs, although they are often made from metal, can be coated with tooth-colored dental cement. Someone will be able to tell that you have a bridge if they look at your mouth really closely. But the average person won't be able to tell that you have a bridge when you're simply smiling or talking.
Do bridges require care?
Once the bridge is in place, it doesn't require any special care other than brushing and flossing around it -- this keeps it clean and keeps the gums around it healthy. Your dentist will keep an eye on its condition at your regular checkups.
Talk to your dentist to learn more about dental bridges. They are not as common as they once were, but they work very well in some situations.