If you're planning to have a missing tooth replaced with a bridge, you might be feeling a little worried or anxious about your upcoming appointment. While having a dental bridge put into place is not a surgical procedure, it's still nice to know what your dentist is doing inside your mouth and what you can expect to feel and experience in the days following the procedure. Here's a look at what you can expect throughout the process of having a dental bridge applied.
The Consultation Appointment
If your dentist has not already evaluated whether or not you're a good candidate for a dental bridge, you can expect this to take place during your first appointment. Your dentist will likely take x-rays and outwardly examine the teeth next to the gap to make sure they are strong enough to support the bridge.
Your dentist will also evaluate whether any additional work needs to be done to prepare the neighboring teeth for the insertion of the bridge. Sometimes, older fillings may need to be replaced or teeth need to be reshaped to ensure the bridge can be attached properly. Your dentist will make a plan for this work. He or she will also discuss your material choices during this first appointment. Dental bridges can be made from porcelain, metal, or metal covered with porcelain. Your dentist will discuss the pros and cons of each and guide you in making the right decision.
If the teeth on either side of your missing tooth are not strong enough to support the bridge, your dentist may suggest other options such as dental implants or a partial denture.
The Tooth Preparation Appointment
Once you're determined to be a good candidate for a bridge, your dentist will schedule an appointment to prepare your mouth for the addition. During this appointment, the teeth near the gap may be filed down to make their shape more conducive to supporting the bridge. Depending on the extent of the required filing, you may or may not be given local anesthetic prior to the procedure.
At this appointment, your dentist will also take careful measurements and imprints of your teeth and mouth so that he or she can order a properly sized, custom bridge for your mouth. To make the mold, you will likely be asked to bite into a soft material after your teeth have been properly filed.
If your dentist feels your teeth are compromised after being filed down, he or she may cover them with temporary crowns, which you will keep in place until your next appointment. A temporary crown is made from acrylic resin. You can eat with the crowns in place, but you should avoid very crunchy foods, as they may break the crowns.
The Bridge Application Appointment
During this final appointment, which generally takes place a few days to a week after the preparation appointment, your temporary crowns will be removed and the bridge will be placed in your mouth.
Because there is sometimes a lot of pushing and pulling involved with getting the crown into place, your dentist will likely give you local anesthetic prior to this procedure. A special cement will then be applied to the two teeth on either side of the gap. The crowns that will cover these teeth are pressed into place, with the dental bridge spanning between them and filling in the gap.
The dental cement will take a few minutes to harden. After that, you'll be asked to rinse your mouth out, and your dentist may make some minor adjustments to the cement with a file. Your mouth may taste a bit unpleasant, but there should be no pain or discomfort.
The Days Following Your Bridge Application
Your jaw may be slightly sore after having a bridge put into place, but this is mostly due to having held your mouth open for a long time. If you're sore, over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to ease your discomfort.
You can eat as normal after having your bridge put into place. It may feel a bit strange at first, but make sure you do chew on the side of your mouth with the bridge so you get used to it.
Most patients have no trouble at all adapting to a bridge. If you experience gum soreness or feel like there is a rough patch on your bridge, contact your dentist. The bridge may need to be adjusted.
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