Why would I need a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges are a way in which missing teeth can be replaced, so first off you are going to need at least one missing tooth or have a tooth planned for extraction.

To answer the question, “Why would I need a dental bridge?” We must look at the consequences of having missing teeth and what can happen if you don’t restore the space. The link discusses this in more detail, but in a nutshell, the reasons are:

  • It doesn’t look good- ( not aesthetic/ can lead to embarrassment or self esteem problems)
  • Difficulty chewing properly
  • Over-eruption of opposing teeth
  • Tilting of teeth either side of the space
  • Loss of bone and support for muscles/facial structure (premature aging)
  • Sensitivity
  • Problems with TMJD
  • Further tooth loss
  • Speech problems.

It is important to understand that these are potential consequences which may or may not happen. This will depend on you, your mouth, your existing teeth and bite; the position of the missing tooth and other factors unique to you.

To give you an idea, from the reasons given above, the first 50% are the ones I tend to see on a more regular basis in my patients. Other dentists may have different experiences. Few things can affect your self-esteem and appearance like a missing front tooth in your smile. In the Western World missing teeth can be a massive social handicap, as we are bombarded with a media frenzy of beautiful people with delicious smiles.
In other places missing teeth are widely accepted and not considered an issue- if you have been to Fiji- you will know what I mean.

Interestingly a lot of individuals, whilst waiting for the gum to heal before having the space restored, learn to eat and function fine with their missing tooth. Whilst most decide to fill the gap, some decide it doesn’t even bother them anymore and leave things as they are.

Each to their own- that said… people who restore their spaces are generally very pleased they did. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it can be to do treatment down the track, as your teeth move and your bite changes. It is also a bit of a slippery slope and once you have one space, you become more likely to leave another space and another- it is a pattern we see all the time and before you know it instead of being able to have a bridge, you need to wear a partial denture instead.

In summary, a dental bridge can help:

  • Restore your bite, and ability to chew
  • Stop other teeth moving or over-erupting
  • Reduce the risk of TMJD
  • Reduce the risk of periodontal disease
  • Reduce the risk of tooth decay
  • Make you more likely to care for your mouth and make sure you don’t loose any more teeth
  • Prevent facial changes down the track by helping support your muscles and lips
  • Reduce the likelihood of problems with other teeth by taking pressure off them.

What are the Signs and Symptoms that I might need a Dental Bridge?

This one is pretty easy- you have a missing tooth or teeth!

If you or the dentist notice any of the consequences of the missing teeth discussed above, starting to happen, it is advisable to act sooner rather than later or at least weigh up the available options again at this time.

If you have a single missing tooth in one or two areas and a generally healthy mouth, you are certainly a candidate for a dental bridge. The more missing teeth you have and the larger the spaces (multiple missing teeth next to each other), the more complicated things start to become.

That’s not to say that a dental bridge is not possible, only that it requires additional consideration and assessment of the available support. Implants may be needed.

Are there Occasions when You don’t necessarily need a Bridge?

Yes.. Well firstly, when other options for replacing the space are more suitable, it goes without saying you don’t need a bridge.

If the missing tooth is the very last one at the back of your mouth, a bridge will not be suitable or even possible because it relies on a tooth either side for support. A single implant is the only ‘fixed’ choice available in this area. That said, in this position a missing tooth is less likely to give you any problems and consequences in terms of looks and chewing ability may not be noticeable- depends if you have lost other teeth or not.

See how you go following the removal of the tooth and have the dentist monitor any changes. If you lost the tooth opposite this space at the very back, then you would simply be chewing on your first molars (assuming you don’t have wisdom teeth. In this case there would be no over eruption and the alternative is two implants!!

If the tooth is not the very back one, it is best if you can to have it restored.