Who is a good candidate for a bridge?

If you have missing teeth, a bridge can restore a natural-looking smile, keep remaining teeth from drifting out of position, improve bite and speech, and keep gums and bone structure healthy. Dentures and implants are also options for people with missing teeth.

What types of materials are used in restorations?

In the past, fillings were usually made of a combination of mercury and silver alloy, known as amalgam. Amalgam fillings, which are still widely used, have been popular because of their low cost and ease of use. However, over time they become unsightly and can wear and crack, exposing teeth to new decay. Today’s composite and porcelain materials are stronger, less toxic, and blend in with your natural teeth. Depending on the procedure, we use a variety of composite and porcelain materials to restore teeth to their natural appearance and function.

Is it necessary that I replace my amalgam fillings with composite fillings?

While there is some evidence that amalgam fillings release mercury into the body, the jury is still out as to how much harm this poses. If there are no fractures or cracks in your teeth, and if the fillings are intact, there is no medical need to replace them. Nevertheless, some patients choose to replace their fillings for health and cosmetic-related reasons.

What is involved in getting a bridge? How many appointments will it take?

After your initial exam, you will schedule your first of two appointments for your bridge procedure. In the first appointment, we will prepare the teeth that will support the bridge, an impression will be taken and you will be given a temporary bridge to wear. During your next appointment, we’ll fit your permanent bridge, and affix it permanently.

Are there different types of bridges?

Yes. There are three main types.

  • Conventional fixed bridge: This is a permanent bridge used to replace one or more missing teeth. With this bridge, a replacement tooth is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill the space of your missing tooth. This is a permanent restoration and does not have to be removed for cleaning or maintenance.
  • Cantilever bridge: This type of bridge is sometimes used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. With this procedure the replacement tooth is only anchored on one side.
  • Resin bonded bridge:This type of bridge is used primarily for missing front teeth when there are healthy teeth with no restorations on either side. In this type of bridge, the replacement tooth is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the adjacent teeth with a resin. This approach reduces the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.

What if I choose not to replace my missing teeth? What are the risks?

When you lose teeth, your remaining teeth will shift, affecting your speech, bite and ability to chew. More importantly, you will also lose the bone that supported the missing teeth, which can cause collapse of the facial structure as well as an increased risk of jaw fracture. Shifting teeth and bone deterioration will spread, leading to more tooth loss and cascading problems. Patients with multiple missing teeth may also suffer from poor nutrition, as the diet shifts to softer foods.

The longer teeth are missing, the worse the spiral becomes, and the more expensive and difficult it becomes to replace them. Tooth loss is a serious condition that should be taken seriously — and treated early — before these side effects occur.