Posts for tag: bridgework
Not long ago the dental bridge was the alternative treatment of choice to partial dentures for restoring lost teeth. Over the last few decades, however, dental implants have nudged bridgework out of this premier spot.
That doesn’t mean, though, that bridgework has gone the way of the horse and buggy. In fact, it may still be a solid restorative alternative to partial dentures for certain people.
A traditional bridge consists of a series of porcelain crowns affixed to each other like pickets in a fence. The end crowns are fitted onto the teeth on either side of the empty tooth space; known as abutment teeth, they support the bridge. The crowns in the middle, known as pontics (from the French for “bridge”), replace the teeth that have been lost.
Bridges have been an effective and cosmetically pleasing method for tooth replacement for nearly a century. To achieve those results, though, a good portion of the abutment teeth’s structure must be removed to accommodate the crowns. This permanently alters these teeth, so they’ll require a restoration from that point on.
Dental implants, on the other hand, can be installed in the missing space without impacting any neighboring teeth. What’s more, implants provide greater support to the underlying bone than can be achieved with bridgework.
But not everyone is a viable candidate for implants, and ironically the reason most often has to do with the bone. If a patient has suffered significant bone volume loss, either because of disease or the long-term absence of the natural teeth, there may not be enough bone to properly support an implant. Unless we can adequately restore this lost bone volume through grafting, we’ll need to consider another type of restoration.
That’s where bridgework could be a viable option for patients in this or similar situations. With continuing advances in materials and new applications, the traditional bridge still remains an effective and important means to restore a smile marred by missing teeth.
If you would like more information on dental restoration options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”
Before determining if a bridge or an implant will work best for you, here is some useful background information. There are two main parts to a tooth; the crown or part that you see above the gum line and the root portion that is below the gum line and encased in bone — the part that is replaced by a dental implant.
A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone during a surgical procedure. The implant is actually a titanium screw-like device that is placed in contact with the bone. During a 3 to 6 month healing period, it subsequently fuses to the bone. A crown made from dental porcelain, gold or a combination of both is then attached to the implant to mimic a healthy, normal tooth.
There are two critical reasons why implants are the preferred method for permanently replacing an adult tooth. The first is that they are less susceptible to gum disease and they are not subject to tooth decay. The second is that because they attach to the jawbone and not to the adjacent teeth. And while an implant may cost a little more initially, when compared to the longevity and replacement cost of bridgework over a lifetime, they may cost less.
By contrast, a fixed bridge is also a non-removable restoration or prosthesis (replacement part) that is held in place by attaching it to your natural adjacent teeth. The treatment gets its name from the French word for bridge, “pont,” as the tooth being replaced is called a pontic. Before placing a bridge, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth must be prepared by removing layers of tooth enamel. Three new teeth are then crafted as a single unit from dental porcelain and/or precious metals with crowns on either side of the pontic. The pontic is held in place when the crowns are placed. Bridgework is at risk for gum disease and tooth decay and requires careful maintenance.
As with most dental procedures you have options and choices. Luckily, when it comes to determining whether a bridge or an implant will work best for you, you can rely upon our expertise. However, by having a clear understanding of these two options you are now better prepared for working with us should you require this treatment option. To learn more read the article, “Implants Vs. Bridgework.” Or, contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.