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What do they have in common? They are bridges. It’s a method of filling a gap between two sturdy masses to improve the functional use of the area. Dental offices build bridges, as well. When there is a sizeable gap between two teeth, often created by an extracted or congenitally – missing (never had since birth) tooth, dentists can “bridge this gap”. Not only does this improve the appearance of a smile, but it also prevents existing teeth from drifting out of position and into the gap. Drifting can occur when the back tooth moves forward, the front tooth moves backward, or a tooth on the top jaw tooth moves downward into the gap. Moving teeth also tend to tip at an angle when they travel. Many times this movement, over time, creates spots where food just gets stuck when eating. This leads to cavities, bad breath, or gum disease. Therefore, it is wise to fill gaps sooner than later.

A bridge in dentistry usually connects a minimum of three things together with a cast metal structure. These include the tooth in front of the gap, behind the gap, and a full-sized “false” tooth filling the gap. Each existing tooth is re-shaped into a structure that resembles a top hat, to accommodate this casted metal, which will eventually be cemented in place. Many times, the metal is coated with a baked-on ceramic so it looks just like natural teeth.

The preliminary preparation for a bridge takes time, with specific measurements and impressions made of the area. Then, this is sent to a dental lab for processing. Patients wear a “temporary bridge” for comfort and to protect the area while the bridge is fabricated. However, I ask them to avoid gum and sticky foods. When the dental lab sends back their completed project, I evaluate the color and quality, then try it in the patient’s mouth. If it fits perfectly, I cement it in place. Patients are shown how to clean under the metal structure, ensuring years of service…but I leave naming each bridge to my patients!

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.