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At the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS, we provide skilled and experienced care to help every patient enjoy the benefits of optimal oral health and a beautiful smile. For individuals who are missing teeth due to extensive decay, periodontal disease, trauma, the result of an illness, or side effect of medical treatment, we offer a comprehensive range of services to rebuild complete, attractive, and functional smiles.
Missing teeth do more than cause embarrassing gaps in your smile. In the absence of a replacement, they can affect the health and function of your smile in the following ways:
Although the consequences of missing teeth can compromise your dental health and overall well-being, modern dentistry offers effective solutions for reestablishing a complete, attractive, and well-functioning smile.
Today, thanks to advances in dental materials, technology, and treatment methods, it's easier than ever before to replace missing teeth and achieve aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting results.
Of course, each smile is different, and every patient has unique needs and individual expectations of care. Helping a patient rebuild a complete and beautiful smile may involve partial or full dentures, fixed dental bridges, or dental implants.
As skilled and experienced providers of care, the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS offers expert guidance on choosing the most suitable treatment option. Whatever type of tooth replacement method you select, you can feel confident that your smile will look good and feel great!
A dental bridge offers a highly effective, stable, and fixed solution for replacing missing teeth. Unlike removable partial dentures that clasp on to the remaining teeth, a dental bridge relies on the support of crowns attached to teeth adjacent to the edentulous area (space without teeth) or strategically placed dental implants. In addition to restoring the look, feel, and function of a natural smile, they also prevent the teeth from shifting, thereby protecting the alignment of a patient's bite.
Far from a new idea, the history of replacing teeth with a fixed dental bridge goes back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations made impressive use of available materials, including animal and human teeth, bones, gold, and ivory, to fill gaps in a person's smile.
Fortunately, over the millennia, dental materials and technology have evolved. Today, dental bridges are fabricated from the highest quality of dental materials, including porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, and engineered ceramic products like zirconia. Now, in addition to being stronger and more durable than ever before, they appear more attractive and naturally beautiful.
Depending on the number of missing teeth, the health of the remaining dentition, and other factors, a dental bridge can replace a single missing tooth or multiple ones.
Although most resources list a traditional fixed bridge, an implant-supported bridge, a cantilever bridge, and a Maryland bridge as the four main types of bridges, the most commonly recommended ones are the first two.
Traditional fixed bridge
A traditional fixed bridge typically requires the preparation and crowning of teeth on either side of the edentulous space. These crowned teeth function to support the artificial ones, known as “pontics,” that span the gap. In much the same way a bridge that extends over a body of water relies on the support of strong, sturdy pillars at each end, a dental bridge garners strength and stability from the terminal crowned teeth fused to a single or multiple pontics.
Although related and similar to a traditional fixed bridge, a cantilever fixed bridge differs in one significant way. Only one side of the pontic will get attached to a crown for support.
As the most advanced method for the replacement of missing teeth, dental implants come the closest to replicating the look, feel, and function of a natural smile. For this reason, an implant-supported bridge often represents the best option in care.
With an implant-supported bridge, there's no need to prepare, crown, or involve any adjacent natural teeth. Because dental implants behave in much the same way as the roots of natural teeth, they provide all the support a bridge requires.
In addition to providing a self-supporting solution for the replacement of missing teeth, Implant-supported bridges offer the most versatile approach for rebuilding a complete smile. Strategically placed dental implants can support any number of replacement teeth up to an entire set of upper or teeth.
Furthermore, as dental implants provide the same stimulation as actual roots to the surrounding jawbone, implant-supported bridges also help prevent the bone shrinkage that naturally occurs when teeth have been lost. This feature helps maintain normal facial contours.
At the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS, our mission is to help every patient enjoy good oral health and the benefits of a beautiful smile. We provide skilled, experienced care and offer the most advanced dental implant-based solutions to transform incomplete smiles into ones that look great, function well, and inspire confidence.
Successful treatment outcomes rely upon many things, including a careful assessment of a patient's oral health, overall well-being, smile goals, lifestyle, and budget. Whether you're a candidate for a traditional fixed bridge, an implant-supported bridge, or a removable denture will be determined following a comprehensive assessment and discussion with our office. We value patient input and strive to fulfill your expectations of care.
Before the fabrication and placement of a dental bridge, it's essential that your mouth is free from gum disease. If you have gum disease, it will need to get treated in advance of fabricating your bridge.
For traditional fixed bridges, the crowned teeth need to be strong and have sufficient bone surrounding them to offer strong support. Sometimes, a bone-grafting procedure to boost bone volume and provide a solid foundation is required before the fabrication of an implant-supported or traditional bridge.
At the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS, the care and comfort of our patients are our top priorities. Our goals are to create healthy and beautiful smiles and make every dental experience a positive one.
Fixed bridges are typically fabricated over the course of multiple visits. The process involves the preparation of the supporting teeth, impression taking, the placement of a temporary bridge, and the try-in and cementation of the permanent restoration.
It begins with a complete diagnostic workup to develop an appropriate treatment plan. For patients getting a traditional fixed bridge, the next step in the procedure involves preparing the abutment (supporting) teeth for full-coverage crowns. Depending on the number of teeth involved and other factors, an impression for the permanent bridge can get taken this visit or the next one. Either way, a temporary bridge or temporary crowns to cover the prepared teeth will get placed to protect the prepared teeth.
Following the preparation of the involved teeth, it's not unusual to experience some sensitivity and gum soreness. This discomfort typically subsides. However, since the fit of a temporary restoration is often less precise than the final permanent crown or bridge, you may still feel some residual sensitivity until treatment is completed.
Until the permanent crown or bridge is placed, it's essential to be extra careful. Temporary restorations are far less durable than permanent ones. If your temporary gets damages or comes off, please hold on to it. Contact our office, and we will set up an appointment to replace it. Do not attempt to do this on your own.
Before cementing your new bridge, the shade, contours, fit, and occlusion are checked. Once that is done, your new, permanent restoration is placed. Since you have been wearing a temporary, your bite may feel slightly different, and you may feel some pressure as the new restoration reestablishes appropriate contact with the adjacent teeth. If the bite still feels slightly off after a couple of days or any discomfort persists, get in touch with our office. You may still require a minor adjustment.
Surgery to place the dental implants is typically considered a minor surgical procedure and performed on an outpatient basis. However, the exact extent of the procedure depends upon the type and number of dental implants and whether or not any additional procedures are required to prepare the supporting bone.
As your trusted partner in care, you can count on our office to keep you well informed every step of the way. To facilitate the precise placement of dental implants for your implant-supported bridge, we'll take several detailed diagnostic records, including 3D images of your jaws and the involved area.
Patient care and comfort are our top priorities. We do everything we can to put you at ease and make every visit to our office both comfortable and stress-free. Prior to placing your dental implants, we'll discuss the anesthesia, options in dental sedation, and provide detailed pre-op and post-op care instructions.
Once the dental implants for your bridge are placed, it can take a few months for them to fully integrate with the surrounding bone. In some cases, a same-day temporary bridge can get placed to provide an immediate and cosmetically pleasing look. However, the permanent bridge typically gets placed when healing and osseointegration (fusion) with the surrounding bone are complete.
Your new bridge is customized to the exact specifications of your smile. Before cementing to the underlying teeth or affixing it to the supporting implants, the shade, occlusion, and all aspects of its fit get carefully checked. In addition to being designed to blend seamlessly with your smile, it's also made to suit your bite and withstand all manner of oral function. We take great care to make sure your new restoration looks great, fits well, and that your bite feels comfortable.
Replacing missing teeth with a dental bridge is a worthwhile investment in the look, health, and function of your smile. While many dental insurances offer coverage for a dental bridge, and some toward the cost of implants, the benefits and amounts can vary significantly from plan to plan. At the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS, we understand the financial considerations involved in care and do all we can to help patients begin treatment without any additional stress or delay. In addition to doing our best to optimize your dental benefits, we also offer several payment and financing options. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions on the cost of care, dental insurances, financing plans, or acceptable forms of payment.
Now that your new permanent crown or bridge is in place, it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene. With proper care, your new restorations will last for years to come. Make sure to brush and floss as instructed. We'll show you how to floss under your dental bridge to keep your new smile clean and bright. Remember to make appointments for your routine checkups and professional cleanings.
The standard answer is that with routine dental visits and good home care, a bridge can last ten to fifteen years, and in many cases, much longer.
At the office of Thomas Fitzsimmons, DDS, we fabricate your bridge from the highest quality dental materials to achieve the most cosmetically pleasing and lifelike results of care. It's also customized to the exact specifications of your smile and designed for optimal aesthetics, strength, and stability. Once fabricated and cemented into place, you'll feel confident sharing your smile, speaking, and eating your favorite foods.
As your trusted partner in care, we analyze every aspect of your smile to develop a treatment plan that provides aesthetically pleasing, healthy, and long-lasting results of care.
For more information on dental bridges, or any services we provide, give us a call today.