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DENTAL BRIDGES – HOW THEY REDUCE THE RISK OF GUM DISEASE

Gum disease isn’t one of the first things one thinks of when they hear “Dental Bridge”. But what if we told you what you just read is true? Dental bridges and gum disease have a pretty close association. But before we get into the whys and hows, let’s find out a little about both of them individually.

What are Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges are custom made replacements for missing tooth or teeth. It consists of a false tooth (pontic), supported by adjacent teeth (abutments). They’re called “bridges” because they bridge the gap created by missing tooth/teeth.

These are made out of gold, alloy, or more preferably, porcelain, due to its increased aesthetic value.

Dental bridges are usually of four main types –

  • Traditional bridges consist of pontic/pontics supported by abutments on both sides.
  • Cantilever bridges consist of a pontic supported by an abutment on one side.
  • Maryland bridges are similar to traditional ones, but it uses a metal or porcelain framework as support on abutment teeth instead of actual crowns.
  • Implant-supported bridges include the use of a dental implant instead of crowns or frameworks.

What Are The Benefits of Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges have many benefits. Aside from restoring your smile, they

  • Restore speech and chewing
  • Maintain facial structures and face shape
  • Prevent teeth from drifting from their original positions, causing misalignment.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, or gum disease as it is more commonly known, is the result of infection and inflammation of the oral tissues and bone surrounding teeth. In the early stages, it is known as “gingivitis”, which means inflammation of the gums. The most common symptom of gingivitis is red gums prone to bleeding. The more serious form is known as “periodontitis”. In this, gums pull away from teeth, and there may also be bone loss, causing loosening or loss of teeth.

A CDC report stated 47.2% of adults (>30 years) in the US have some form of gum disease. This number only worsens with age.

Causes of Gum Disease

Bacteria reside naturally in our mouths. It is when these bacteria start to proliferate, they can infect the tissues surrounding teeth, causing inflammation and ultimately, gum disease. In poor oral health conditions, the bacteria can cause a film on the teeth called ‘plaque’, which hardens to form calculi (single- calculus). This can slowly spread below the gum line, making it harder to clean. Only professional intervention can remove the calculi, stopping disease progression.

This condition worsens particularly in people with poor nutrition, poor oral hygiene, misaligned teeth, malocclusions, and habits such as smoking, tobacco chewing, etc.

Do I Have Gum Disease?

If you have any of the following signs, chances are you have some form of the disease –

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Painful gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain on chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Exposed teeth (gums have moved away)
  • Any changes in the teeth when you bite
  • Any changes in the fit of your prosthesis

How Can Dental Bridges Prevent Gum Disease?

Dental bridges are used mostly when there’s a need for replacement of missing teeth. And these can help reduce the risk of gum disease to a great extent.

When there’s a missing tooth in the oral cavity, the teeth on either side (or even above) tend to drift from their original spaces. Teeth tend to move naturally, and when there isn’t a supporting structure, they move in that particular direction.

This leads to misalignment and malocclusion in the mouth – causing food particles to lodge in crevices. As a result, the gums can get infected. Moreover, bacteria also form over the space left behind by the missing tooth and can trigger serious problems. The adjacent drifted teeth also start taking up excess load as a result of improper bite – worsening the gum disease.

Dental bridges fill up these spaces, thereby preventing any unwarranted infections.

How Are Dental Bridges Placed?

Bridges require the use of the natural teeth present in your mouth. A typical bridge procedure involves more than one visit to your dentist.

  • On your first visit, the dentist will do a thorough examination of your oral cavity.
  • They might advise you to undergo a session of teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) either before the commencement of treatment or before bridge placement. This is done to ensure that the oral cavity has a healthy environment. This also greatly reduces the risk of potential gum disease.
  • If your dentist feels like you are a good candidate for a bridge, they will prepare the teeth on both sides of the gap. This involves cutting down the tooth structure so it can support the crown attached to the bridge.
  • Next, they will take an impression of your teeth and send it to a lab. The lab technicians will follow your dentists’ instructions and make the bridge.
  • Your dentist might place a temporary bridge to protect your teeth until the final one is delivered.
  • When the final bridge is ready, your dentist fits, adjusts, and cements the bridge to the prepared teeth. This type of cementation is permanent and cannot be taken out of your mouth without your dentist’s help.

In the case of a Maryland bridge, only the backsides of the abutment teeth are prepared. The framework is cemented on these surfaces.

With implant-supported bridges, oral surgery is involved to place the implants in the jaw bone. And another surgical procedure is done to place the bridges. While this procedure is the most stable and strongest system, this can take many months to be finished. Furthermore, not all candidates are suited for implant-supported bridges.

If you or your family member have lost a tooth (or teeth) recently, and wish to get a dental bridge, feel free to get in touch with our team at Le Sueur Family Dental. We are dedicated to providing you with comfortable visits and excellent dental care. And since we’re family dentists, we’re available for every one of all ages. Call us at 507-665-6812 to book your appointment today!