A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth. Pretend you are missing a tooth and there are good teeth in front of the space and behind the space. Those good teeth are ‘shaved down’ or ‘prepared’ to be little stumps. The bridge is cemented to these two stumps and has a dummy tooth in the middle.
So basically, the tooth behind the gap is Manhattan.
The tooth in front of the gap is Brooklyn.
The gap itself is the East River.
And the dummy tooth is the Brooklyn Bridge.
Awesome right? Well not entirely. There are many downsides to a bridge:
#1. First and foremost, the teeth are getting shaved down. It’s one thing if the teeth are ALREADY shaved down (i.e. for a crown), but otherwise, you are basically harming perfectly good teeth in order to fill in the gap. Down the road, these teeth could need root canals, or even extraction. By shaving them down they are opening the teeth to the risk of developing other problems.
#2. Bridges do not last forever. They typically need to be replaced after 5, 10, 15 years. It all depends on how well you take care of them.
#3. Speaking of which, bridges are a nightmare to clean. Since the “teeth” are connected, you cannot floss between them. In fact, you need to floss UNDERNEATH your bridge. How you ask? There are a number of ways: floss threaders, water picks, special brushes, Superfloss. No matter how you do it, it requires extra care and attention.
#4. Bone loss. When a tooth is removed (which is what results in the gap in the first place), you lose bone in that area. There is nothing to hold the bone up (which the root previously did). You can lose about 40-60% of the bone mass at the time of the extraction, and about 1% per year thereafter. A dental implant actually goes INTO the bone, and thus, “holds it up”. The dummy tooth on the bridge sits ON TOP of the bone, and thus, does NOT “hold it up”. So imagine you get your front tooth extracted when you are 20 years old and you get a bridge. Many years later (and likely, many bridges later) when you are 50, it will likely be very difficult to get a good cosmetic result if you have a large amount of bone loss.
Doesn’t sound so sexy now does it? So why would anyone get a bridge? Some insurance companies cover a bridge and do not cover the cooler, sexier, more thrilling alternative (the implant). But if all the insurance companies were jumping off a cliff, would you? (Doesn’t really work there does it?)
Anyway, this is probably a great time to talk about dental implants… BUT my Lean Cuisine just finished heating so you’ll have to wait till next week folks!
In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂
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