Whether you have one missing tooth or several, the absolute worst strategy is to delay replacement. When your mouth has one or more gaps in an arch, you endanger your other teeth as well as your general health. Missing, unreplaced teeth lead to complications such as:
While tooth replacement is never a choice you want to make, when you’re faced with it, you have a number of options. The fastest, easiest, and least expensive are dentures. The most natural, functional, and aesthetic — but also possibly the most expensive — are dental implants.
Bridging the two extremes of the best and the least optimal tooth replacement solutions is a dental bridge. In some instances, a bridge is a better choice for you than either implants or dentures.
Addie Chang, DMD, an expert family dentist who founded our clinic in Tukwila, Washington, wants you to have the optimal tooth replacement that meets all your needs. Sometimes that’s a dental bridge.
When is a bridge your best option? Here are the most common scenarios.
Dental implants are single, false teeth (i.e., crowns) attached to a false, titanium root that your dentist inserts into your jaw bone. However, if you’ve lost jaw bone due to aging or trauma, you won’t be able to get an implant without first undergoing a grafting procedure.
In some instances, grafting may not even be sufficient to remedy the problem. Or, you may not want to add time and expense to your treatment plan. In such cases, Dr. Chang recommends a dental bridge.
She then prepares a tooth on either side of your gap to accept and secure the bridge. These teeth are known as the “abutment” teeth. Each abutment tooth must be filed down and then fitted with a false crown that’s attached to the span of the bridge.
Dentures are a wonderful choice for fast, thorough tooth replacement when you’re missing all or most of your teeth in a single arch. Even if you have a few remaining, healthy teeth, we custom design your dentures to accommodate them.
However, when you’re missing just a few teeth, dentures won’t work. In such instances, a dental bridge is a much better choice if you can’t afford implants. A dental bridge can replace a single tooth or several teeth in a row.
If you have enough jaw bone, you can even use dental implants as the abutment teeth for a bridge that replaces three or more missing teeth. In this case, you need to leave extra time for the implants to fuse to your jaw bone. Otherwise, Dr. Chang modifies the teeth on either side of the gap to serve as abutments.