Large gaps, chipped or missing teeth can affect a person’s smile. Dental crowns and bridges are techniques available to help.
It’s estimated that 178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth and approximately 2.3 million implant-supported crowns are made annually. If you’re one of the 178 million people who are missing a tooth, it’s important to address the problem as soon as possible to prevent further oral health issues.
Having a gap between your teeth can lead to speech or eating problems and even cause adjacent teeth to drift towards the open space. Dental bridges fill a gap where one or more teeth are missing and help prevent these and other oral issues.
When a tooth is damaged due to cavities or cracks, a filling is used to save and restore the tooth. In some cases, the affected area of the tooth can be too large for a traditional filling to help. Dental crowns cover the natural tooth to help protect it from further chipping and breaking.
If you are missing a tooth and are looking for information about the replacement process, below are some helpful tips.
- request a consultation
- know what to expect
- watch what you eat
- get a second opinion
- avoid the problem
- stop daily oral care
- assume that it’s too late
- forget to ask for alternatives
Visit your dentist and ask what your options are. If you have a severely damaged tooth, are missing teeth or have general questions about crowns and bridges, schedule a consultation.
Dental crowns and bridges both require multiple dental visits and it’s important that you understand the process. Bridges are a good way to stabilize teeth surrounding a gap, but implants and dentures could also be effective, depending on the situation.
Ask your dentist about removable versus permanent options and the benefits of each. In some cases, dentures may be recommended depending on the number of teeth that are missing, or the location and function of the missing teeth. Permanent teeth are much easier to maintain, as they become a part of your anatomy, while temporary dentures require additional care to keep them clean and functioning.
When cared for properly, crowns can last anywhere between 10 and 20 years and bridges can last a lifetime. Scheduling a consultation will help your dentist to better understand your specific needs.
After your first consultation, your dentist will prepare your teeth for a crown or bridge. Depending on the location of missing teeth, your dentist may recommend a specific material. Visible missing teeth likely require porcelain or ceramic that can altered to match the color of your teeth.
The teeth on either side of your gap will serve as anchors and their size will be reduced to prepare them for the crowns. Your permanent crown or bridge takes a few weeks to be customized for your smile, so a temporary crown may be used to protect the anchoring teeth.
Temporary crowns are cemented into your mouth and will be removed by your dentist at a later appointment. If your crown becomes loose or comes off, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment to get the crown re-cemented.
It’s important that you communicate with your dentist if anything goes wrong before or after the restoration process. Keep your dentist informed and let them know if your bite feels uneven or if the pain doesn’t subside after a week.
The foods you eat during this process have a direct impact on the outcome of the procedure. Eating sticky or crunchy foods (e.g. apple, candy, and corn) could damage your teeth before the insertion of a permanent crown or bridge. They also have the potential to dislodge a temporary crown, not only resulting in another dentist visit, causing you to fork over additional money.
Once you’ve undergone the procedure, be mindful that you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages; however these sensitivities should subside after a few weeks.
Crowns and bridges aren’t the only options, and if you’d like a second opinion, request a consultation elsewhere. It’s important that you are comfortable with your decision and have all the information you need and before starting the process.
It may not seem like a big deal to have missing teeth, especially if the gaps aren’t visible, but bigger issues could arise if you don’t address the problem quickly. Missing teeth may lead to trouble chewing and problems with speech. The pressure that is put on existing teeth can also cause them to shift, which can eventually lead to tooth decay, as it’s harder to clean crooked teeth.
Bone loss is also a possible effect of missing teeth. When a tooth is missing, the bone deteriorates and the gums begin to shrink. As more bone is lost, replacing the teeth becomes a much harder process.
Address missing teeth and gaps as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it could be to fix the problem. Immediate treatment is vital to prevent future oral health issues.
While daily oral care can’t replace dental visits, it’s important to continue brushing and flossing multiple times a day. Acrylic temporaries attract more bacterial plaque than natural teeth, so brushing at least three times a day is necessary. Also, use mouthwash to help kill bacteria after each meal and to help decrease inflammation of gum tissue.
Your dentist can also show you how to floss without dislodging your temporary crown or bridge. A good way to do so is by releasing one end of the floss and pulling it through rather than pulling it back through the contact point. Ask your dentist to demonstrate proper flossing techniques that will keep your crown or bridge clean and in place. Keeping up with daily oral care will help the process go smoother.
Every case is different and even if you’ve had missing teeth or gaps for some time, your dentist may still be able to assist you. While a crown or bridge may not be the solution for you, it’s still important that you see your dentist and have them assess your situation. Maybe you need dentures, or other types of implants, in any case, let your dentist determine that. Don’t try and diagnose yourself without the help of a professional. Seeing a dentist can help prevent future oral health issues so be sure to contact one as soon as possible.
Before your teeth are prepared for a crown or bridge, your dentist will need to take impressions of your teeth and gums. He or she may also reshape your gums to aid with the impression process and to improve the esthetics of your smile.
Advancements in the dental industry are making this process more comfortable and require less time. Ask your dentist about options such as dental lasers, which can eliminate the need for anesthesia, reduce bleeding and swelling and increase the beauty of your smile.
The more information you know about crowns and bridges, the more prepared you’ll be. It’s important to ask as many questions as possible and to do your own research before speaking with your dentist.
Missing teeth and gaps often prevent people from smiling and even affect self-esteem. Just know that there are solutions that can help you and bring your smile back..