Dental Bridges San Antonio
There are times that the loss of tooth structure is so great that not even the most skilled dentist can restore it, even by covering it with a crown. Extraction is sometimes necessary, which can leave behind an unattractive and unhealthy hole. In these situations, Dr. Brian Shaffer does everything he can to restore a patient’s smile. He offers dental implants and dental bridges to patients of his San Antonio practice. These dental restorations are an effective way for patients to preserve the integrity of surrounding teeth and their smile.
Understanding Dental Bridges
After the extraction of a tooth, patients must decide what to do next. The first option is to simply do nothing and leave the space empty where your tooth used to be. This is not the best solution, because the surrounding teeth will move and want to collapse into that space if the tooth is not replaced. Also the tooth that is above or below the space will want to move into that space. It’s called super eruption and this can cause the loss of that tooth if it erupts too far into the space left behind by the extraction. The movement of these teeth can also cause your teeth not to fit well together anymore (called occlusal prematurities) and this can lead to problems in biting and grinding your teeth, especially at night (called bruxism). To avoid problems, Dr. Shaffer recommends dental bridges or implants.
Option two is to place a “dummy” tooth in the space. We simply make a bridge between the two natural good teeth on either side of the hole, and the bridge holds the space with the dummy tooth. It is a relatively simple procedure that requires the teeth on either side of the space to be crowned or have a partial-coverage restoration. Then we attach the dummy tooth between the other two crowns and cement all three as a unit. Just like the bridge that you may travel over in a car, our dental bridge provides a span (dummy tooth) between the two adjacent teeth, holding the correct relationship for the other teeth, adjacent and opposing. It also provides a surface to better chew with.
Receiving Dental Bridges
When placing dental bridges at his San Antonio practice, Dr. Shaffer first prepares the teeth next to the space for a crown. Then Dr. Shaffer has our laboratory that makes crowns simply add a dummy crown, called a pontic, between the other two crowns, forming a “bridge.” This effectively fills the open space. The patient is instructed how to clean between the teeth and also under the dental bridge.
Replacing a Tooth with Dental Implants
For patients who wish to make cleaning the teeth easier, a third treatment option following extraction may be preferred. This option is to place a dental implant, and then a crown over the implant. An implant replaces the missing tooth with a special cylinder of titanium metal that is made as a root form. The bone actually grows into the surface of the titanium root form in a process we call osseous integration.
Dr. Shaffer will send you to a trusted periodontist, who will make a small opening in your gums where your tooth was extracted. Then the root form is fit into the small hole. Sounds painful, but it is a very simple, and the bone will grow into the surface of your tooth to hold the implant in place in about one to three months. After that, patients return to our San Antonio office where Dr. Shaffer will take an impression of the head, or abutment, of the implant and have our lab make a porcelain crown to fit your implant. Dr. Shaffer will make sure of the fit of the crown and then cement the crown onto the abutment to replace your tooth. Placing dental implants is a simple procedure that has been done successfully in dentistry for over 40 years. As a matter of fact the implants Dr. Shaffer insists on using have a success rate of over 95% during more than 20 years of study.
More Information on Dental Bridges
Dr. Shaffer believes that every patient is entitled to a beautiful, healthy smile. To learn if implants or dental bridges are right for you, contact our San Antonio office to schedule an appointment. We are also happy to discuss other treatment options, including partial dentures to replace any teeth you are missing with ones you can smile with.