Unfortunately, aging and genetics mean that everyone will probably lose a permanent tooth at some point in their lives. In fact, missing adult teeth have been a primary focus in cosmetic dentistry for as long as the field has been around. Thankfully, we don’t rely on the wood and bone antique dentures in the past. For patients missing teeth in the greater Phoenix area, Drs. Konkle and Dr. Hatch provide more modern dental bridge services instead.
Dental bridges are a type of tooth prosthetic designed to replace single or multiple consecutive missing teeth. This is because, as the name suggests, the prosthetic teeth are used to “bridge” the gap left behind by a missing tooth. Thus, repairing one missing tooth is functionally the same as repairing a row of missing teeth, which is why bridges are most often prescribed in those situations.
The bridge part of the dental bridge (also called the pontic) can be made from a variety of materials — gold, silver alloys, ceramic/porcelain mixes, and even a combination of those substances can be used to fashion a false tooth. Appearances aside, there isn’t really a big difference between any of the materials. Porcelain and ceramic do happen to be the most common and favored among dentists, though, because they do create the most realistic, tooth-like results.
Dental bridges, however, consist of more than just the prosthetic pontic section. In fact, creating the false tooth isn’t even the first step a dentist takes during the treatment. Rather, the procedure begins with the abutment teeth — the teeth on either side of the bridge to which the prosthetic will attach.
The enamel of these teeth will be filed down in preparation for placement of artificial crowns. These crowns fit completely around a tooth. Dental crowns are often made from the same materials that bridges are.
Consequently, this step also presents one of the only drawbacks of a dental bridge. The neighboring teeth could be perfectly healthy, and they would still need to be modified for the procedure to be successful. Dentists can accomplish this modification in a least-invasive and completely safe way.
After preparing the teeth, we will give you a temporary bridge to wear while the actual dental bridge is being made in the lab based on impressions and molds taken of your teeth. Dental bridges aren’t pre-made, store-bought products. They’re fully customized to fit a patient’s mouth and are made to resemble the original teeth as much as possible.
At Hatch Family Dentistry we offer patients CEREC technology, which fabricates most crown restorations while you wait. Some prosthetics will need to be done by a separate laboratory. For this impressions of the area will need to be taken and sent off to the lab. If this is necessary, temporary crowns will be placed on the supporting teeth until the permanent replacement returns from the lab.
Once the bridge is finished, though, the rest is relatively simple. We will attach the crowns, bridge, and pontic, making the minute adjustments needed to provide your mouth with a perfect fit.
If you’re missing teeth and want to see if you can get a dental bridge, be sure to contact Drs. Konkle and Dr. Hatch at Hatch Family Dentistry! Our office is located in Tempe, and you can set up your appointment by simply calling (480) 838-3073, or by visiting our website today!