If you’re missing teeth, and you’re not a baby or a young child, you’ve probably found that people don’t think it’s too cute. Unfortunately, once your “adult” teeth have grown in, it seems harder to get respect in your daily life with a toothless smile. Tooth loss is surprisingly common in adult Americans. Whether it’s from tooth decay, gum disease, a failed root canal, or an accident, many adults are missing teeth somewhere in their smile. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 adults have lost at least one of their teeth by the time they turn 44, and by the time we turn 74, about one-quarter have no permanent teeth left at all! Unfortunately, all those empty spaces can lead to additional dental problems.
Effects of Missing Teeth
If you are among this population, you know the dental problems and difficulties that follow when you lose a tooth. Including the impact on how you speak, your ability to chew, and what you eat, your self-esteem may also take a hit, especially if the missing tooth now causes an unsightly gap in your smile. If left untreated for a time, a missing tooth may also cause your teeth to shift, lead to a painful condition known as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), or create other dental problems, such as increasing your risk for gum disease and tooth decay.
How to Fix It
Before you panic, know that lots of options can help fill in the gap a missing tooth leaves behind. Fixed dental bridges are among the more common choices and work exactly how they sound: by bridging or filling in the space caused by a lost tooth. Fixed bridges are just that – fixed – and cannot be taken in and out of the mouth and are typically held in place via bonding cement and/or metal substructures.
Types of Bridges
Made from porcelain, porcelain-over-metal, metal alloys, or gold, a bridge uses neighboring teeth to anchor one or more artificial teeth in between them. Although there are several types of fixed bridges, there are three main types:
- Conventional/traditional fixed bridge
- Cantilever bridge
- Resin-bonded bridge (also known as a Maryland bridge)
Cost of a Bridge
The cost of a bridge depends on a variety of different things, including your insurance coverage, the techniques of the dentist and lab technician who makes it, where you live and your dentist practices, and the type of bridge you choose. They can run anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, and last anywhere from five to twenty years if well cared for, so it’s best to go for regular checkups and practice good oral hygiene to keep the area clean. Although pricey, they do a lot toward preventing further dental problems.
For more information on which kind of bridge may be best for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bushong in his Neighborhood Smiles Green Bay dental office, conveniently located in the the village of Allouez, in the Parc Village Dental Plaza.