Each tooth in our mouth has a specific function. When a tooth is missing the biting force on the remaining teeth is affected. Due to the change in the bite, other teeth often begin to shift toward the space left by the missing tooth. Adjoining teeth may shift into the space often causing the teeth throughout the mouth to shift. The opposing tooth often begins to extrude into the space which can result in periodontal (gum) problems and loss of additional teeth. It is extremely important to replace a missing tooth, or teeth, in a timely manner.
Dr. Weller’s first recommendation is to replace the tooth with a dental implant. If a dental implant can not be utilized due to spacing concerns, bone deterioration or excessive health concerns a bridge is the next best way to replace a missing tooth. A bridge serves to replace a missing tooth or teeth. There are 2 types of bridges commonly used, a traditional (full coverage) bridge or a Maryland bridge.
A full cover, or traditional, bridge is the most common type and can be made of all porcelain or a combination of porcelain and metal. This type of bridge will require placing crowns on the adjacent teeth to anchor the prosthetic (false) tooth or teeth in place.
A Maryland Bridge is generally only used in the front of the mouth where the biting force is less. A Maryland Bridge consists of a prosthetic tooth fused to wings, usually made of zirconium or metal, which are bonded to the adjoining teeth.
Both types of bridge are fabricated at a professional dental laboratory and normally require two visits. During your first visit, the teeth are prepared, impressions are made of the teeth and a temporary bridge is placed. At the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent bridge is fitted, adjusted and cemented into place.
If you are missing several teeth in an area of the mouth, and no longer have any healthy teeth to support a bridge, an implant bridge may be an option. An implant bridge is similar to a traditional bridge but uses dental implants to anchor the bridge instead of natural teeth.