By the age of 45, nearly 70 percent of all Americans have lost at least one tooth to an accident, gum disease, tooth decay or a botched root canal, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Missing teeth can be a source of great embarrassment. Not only are they cosmetically disfiguring, they can also interfere with a person’s ability to speak and eat.
Fortunately, there are solutions for missing teeth. One of the most popular is the dental bridge, a prosthetic device containing artificial teeth, or pontics, designed to span the gap caused by the missing teeth. Dental bridges are anchored either to natural teeth, teeth capped with crowns, or dental implants capped with crowns. It’s critically important that the bridge fits securely in the mouth, using these supports. A misaligned bridge can lead to all sorts of dental problems including increased incidence of tooth decay and gum disease, a crooked bite and an increased risk for developing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). The dentist or the dentist’s assistant will take a mold of the oral cavity. This mold will be sent to a dental laboratory where trained technicians will craft the new bridge to the exact contours of the patient’s mouth.
Cleaning and caring for a dental bridge are very important. The ideal candidate for a dental bridge is someone who understands the importance of oral hygiene in order to maintain a healthy smile. Brush your teeth every time you eat, and floss at least once a day. There are special products engineered to help floss the gums under dental bridges. These products, called floss threaders, are designed to help you anchor dental floss so it fits more easily in the tight space between the bottom of the bridge and the gums. There are also a number of specially designed flosses, tapered on the ends to fit under the bridge, but thick in the middle so they can still attack the plaque. Make sure you visit your dentist twice a year, so he or she can make sure the bridge is fitting the way it was designed to fit.