With there being so many options available to replace missing or failing teeth it can be overwhelming trying to understand which option is the most suitable for you. Sometimes it might feel easier to do nothing at all and live with a gap in your teeth, especially if it’s toward the back of your mouth where no one really sees it.
If you are missing a tooth, it is very important for your health and well-being that you get it replaced. Missing teeth can affect your speech, how your smile looks, and cause a strain on your remaining teeth with your ability to chew often affected. Extra space can also encourage your remaining teeth to drift and end up in crooked positions.
So, if you or one of your loved ones are missing one or more teeth, the question is not “Should I replace it?” but, “How should I replace it?”
Dental bridges are quite literally what they ‘say on the tin;’ they bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. The bridge is anchored in place utilising the teeth on either side. Anyone who is missing between one and three consecutive teeth could be an ideal candidate for a bridge. Those who are missing more than this or lots of teeth in different areas may be more suited to a partial denture or dental implants.
There are a number of different bridges, each with its own pros and cons. If a bridge is recommended, your dentist will discuss the different options and explain which option would be most suitable for you.
This is the most common type of dental bridge. With this option one or more false teeth are held in place by dental crowns on either side. Unfortunately, the placement of dental crowns does require some drilling of the natural teeth, once prepared, an impression or digital scan is taken of the affected teeth. This is then sent to the dental lab to manufacture your custom bridge; it usually takes around 4 weeks for this process from start to finish. While you are waiting you will be fitted with a temporary bridge, don’t worry - we won’t leave you without teeth! Fitting a temporary bridge will also prevent any sensitivity in the area. Once manufactured, the bridge will be tried in, and, depending on how this feels for you, some small adjustments may be required before it is cemented in place. Conventional bridges are great for those who are looking for an option which is very strong and not removable.
A Maryland bridge is a false tooth which is attached to a small wing of metal. This type of bridge required very little drilling or preparation; local anaesthetic is generally not even required for this treatment. Once the area has been prepared, an impression or digital scan is taken of the teeth and sent to our dental laboratory, the same process as with a conventional bridge.
A powerful adhesive is used to secure the bridge in place. When a Maryland bridge is used to replace a missing front tooth, the metal wings are stuck onto the back of the adjacent teeth, meaning they cannot be seen from the front. Maryland bridges are wonderful options for those who want a non-removable option which doesn’t require much preparation of the surrounding teeth.
Where teeth are missing, implants are the gold standard option for replacement. They are the closest solution to real natural teeth in the way that they look, feel and function. Where a single tooth is being replaced, this would only require a single implant with a crown on top. Where multiple teeth are missing in the same area, a single implant can usually be placed which will then hold a bridge to replace more than one tooth. When a full arch of teeth is missing, usually 4-5 implants can be placed which will then replace a full arch of teeth, implant bridges can be used in this case.
As long as you maintain good oral hygiene and eating habits, looking after a bridge as you would a natural tooth, they could last for approximately 10-15 years. Visiting your dentist for 6 monthly check-ups will ensure all of your teeth are looked after and any potential issues can be identified and dealt with before they become problems.
If your bridge has been in place for many years, it is not uncommon to require a replacement, whether this is due to general wear and tear, an accident or poor dental hygiene. Recommendations for treatment or repair of the bridge will depend on the condition and extent of any damage.