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Missing teeth can not only cause a gap in your smile, but could result in a gap in your confidence. And a whole lot more. Thankfully, modern dentistry provides a number of solutions to fill in the gaps, literally. But filling in these gaps isn’t a mere cosmetic concern. It is essential so that you don’t have to experience any of the likely consequences of having a missing tooth / teeth.
So, why is it so important to replace missing teeth?
Balance and stability
In a normal mouth, each of the upper teeth have proper contact and support with their corresponding lower teeth, which makes chewing well balanced.
In case of a missing tooth / teeth, there could be unnecessary strain on the gum tissue or bone, and the surrounding teeth could also drift or spread away from their positions. Drifting teeth could create areas where food particles get lodged and result in decay. This might also result in some destruction of the bone structure. That’s not it. The opposite molar could super-erupt, or the surrounding teeth could tilt too.
Loss of teeth might result in a weaker bite, which will cause difficulties in chewing. Also, this could result in additional pressure on the TMJ joint, which could cause long term damage.
The loss of teeth can be a psychological blow to the self-confidence, as it can drastically change the way the face looks. The facial muscles lose their support and the cheeks could also lose their fullness. With the loss of back teeth, the bite is also affected, and the lower jaw could move more than normal.
A dental bridge is a technique that uses the support of surrounding teeth to fit in artificial teeth that fill up the gaps left by missing teeth. A bridge is formed when two or more crowns are connected together and placed over the position of the missing teeth, as well as the adjacent natural teeth. The adjacent teeth, known as abutment teeth also need to be prepared, whereas the artificial tooth is called the "pontic".
Dental bridges are so called because they literally bridge the gap that’s left behind by missing teeth. They look and feel natural, and are easy to maintain too.
There are 3 broad types of bridges. Just like the different types of crowns, depending on your specific case, our expert dentists will recommend the best bridge for you.
Traditional fixed bridges
This type makes use of the immediate adjacent teeth for support and stability. These adjacent teeth are prepared to receive a crown each. The crowns are made with a false tooth joining them in the center to form a ‘bridge’. These bridges are usually made from porcelain, gold or ceramic.
When abutment teeth are present only on one side of the missing tooth, and the pontic is placed outside the abutment teeth.
The technique for Maryland bridges requires the least amount of preparation, and doesn’t use crowns to keep the pontic secure. Instead, it casts "wings" made of metal alloys that fit on the inside surface of the supporting teeth. These are generally used for the front teeth, which has a relatively lighter bite force.
The process of placing a dental bridge is similar to that of placing dental crowns, and typically requires two visits, where the procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia.
They look and feel just like natural teeth, and restore your smile
They support the cheeks and lips, to retain the correct ‘vertical dimension’ of the face and enable proper speech
They can preserve the original positions of the surrounding teeth and prevent them from drifting and moving into the gaps, which will cause increased stress and further weakening of the bite.
This will also preserve the chewing function, which will aid proper digestion
They are a much quicker option as compared to implants, which could take a few months, or orthodontics, which could take a few years
They are more convenient than dentures – as they are fixed and do not move around while chewing or speaking
Removable Partial Dentures
You could consider this if you have multiple missing teeth, or if you feel you might lose more teeth. This could work well as an intermediary solution before you get a long term bridge or implant done.
This is becoming a popular option due to their enhanced function, as well as overall appearance.
Orthodontics treatment is sometimes used to fill spaces left behind post tooth removal. This won’t require any implants, and will also not result in loss of tooth structure due to preparation.
Living with it
Not all missing teeth gaps need to be filled up, especially if you are looking at the second or third molars. You can just choose to ignore it if it doesn’t cause you any discomfort or embarrassment.
It’s never going to be the same as natural teeth when you get a dental bridge fixed, and that is why you will need to take special care of your dental bridge. It usually takes people some time to adjust and get comfortable with the feel of the new bridge in their mouth.
Here are some suggestions that will help keep them functional for years to come:
Avoid consumption of anything too hot or too cold, until you regain sensation
Gently brush and floss between the teeth adjacent to the crowns
Avoid any foods that are hard, or habits like clenching or guarding – as this could damage the crown
At Magical Smiles, we are committed to spreading smiles and we would like to invite you for a consultation before you go ahead with any procedure. Getting the best smile you’ve always dreamed of isn’t that far-fetched a reality today.