When you lose some of your teeth, maybe due to an illness or accident, your dentist recommends three treatment options: dentures, dental implants and dental bridges.
Most times, you have the privilege of choosing the treatment method, but sometimes, your condition or general health might not make you a good candidate for some treatment options. For example, if you have a health condition that affects your bones, dental implants may not be right for you.
Here's what you need to know to understand these treatment options.
Dentures are popular because they are cheap and have simple treatment procedures. You are only required to visit your dentist for measurement and fitting, after which a mould is made. The mould is sent to the laboratory to act as a reference point for constructing your denture. The process of constructing your denture can take a day or a week; this depends on the dental clinic you visit.
These are expensive and require a more extensive treatment approach. You need to be unconscious during the procedure, meaning you have to be placed under general anaesthesia. A dental implant is drilled into your jawbone to act as a root. A dental crown is then attached to it at a later date. The procedure can take months before completion.
You may come across different approaches to dental bridge treatment. The key things you should keep in mind is that dental crowns and pontics are used.
- Pontic — This is the fake or artificial tooth that fills the space left after you lose a tooth.
- A dental crown — This is a tooth covering that resembles a natural tooth without the root or roots. It can be in the shape of an incisor, canine, pre-molar or molar.
To form a dental bridge, the dentist may attach two dental crowns on opposite sides of the pontic to form three fused artificial teeth. They may also attach one dental crown to one side of the pontic to form two joined artificial teeth. What happens after this depends on the dental bridge treatment method to be applied.
- Traditional method — If you have one missing tooth, you will, of course, have a gap between two natural teeth. The dentist needs to create room to place the three joined teeth mentioned above. To do this, they file the two natural teeth adjacent to the gap to strip some of the enamel off. This allows the dental crowns to fit over the teeth and the pontic to sit in the gap. Dental crowns are cemented on the drilled teeth for permanent securing.
- Cantilever method — This is the same as the traditional method, but instead of using the three fused artificial teeth, the dentist uses the two joined artificial teeth. This means that only one natural tooth is drilled to create room for one dental crown. The pontic will, of course, sit in the gap.
To learn more about dental bridges, talk to a dentist.