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what is dental bridge?

My dentist recommended a dental bridge.  What if I do nothing?

Teeth are held in their normal position in the dental arch by the presence of the adjacent teeth, and are kept from extruding out of the jaw by the presence of the opposing teeth. They are kept from tipping toward the cheeks by the cheek muscles, and prevented from tipping inward by the presence of the tongue. This balance of forces is upset when a tooth is lost.


Loss of a tooth or multiple teeth can have significant consequences including the following:


1.  Bite collapse is a condition in which the lower jaw rotates further closed than normal. This is significant because it causes the chewing muscles to shorten on the affected side. Shorter muscles can produce greater than normal contraction forces that can cause damage to the remaining teeth (creating a potential domino effect) and the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which may not be adequately supported if back teeth are missing.


2.  Inability to chew efficiently, which can cause problems with the proper digestion of food. This can lead to weight loss or gain, depending on how the patient’s diet is affected.


3.  Change in appearance of the face as the facial muscles change shape and lose their underlying support. The lower face becomes shorter, and the cheeks collapse inward.


4.  Chapping of the lips and chronic cracking at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis) as the lips and cheeks are compressed secondary to the bite collapse.


5.  Other factors also determine whether there will be significant tooth movement when a tooth is lost. Age is one of them. Younger patients generally experience greater shifting, possibly due to the greater pliability of the bone in younger people. How the patient uses their teeth also plays a role. Those who clench, grind, chew ice or popcorn kernels, or otherwise apply heavy forces to their teeth, are more likely to experience problems after the loss of a tooth. Also, if the teeth adjacent to, and opposing the missing tooth have stable contacts with the teeth around them, the patient may not experience much movement in their remaining teeth. Your dentist is the most qualified to evaluate the potential complications of missing teeth in your mouth.



If you have any further questions about Dental Bridges, or would like to learn more about our services, please don't hesitate to contact our office at (253) 475-7125.  We would be more than happy to help you in any way we can.

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