Bridges

Bridges Specialist
Sports injuries, accidents, or disease can suddenly leave you with a missing tooth. Eating and talking immediately becomes more difficult. Your first thought may be, “How quickly can I get to the dentist?” One option for replacing the tooth is a dental bridge. Dr. Patricia Van Kooten, DMD, at Lighthouse Family Dentistry in Monterey, California, specializes in bridges and crowns and leaves time in her schedule for emergency appointments. Call the office, or request an online appointment now to benefit from Dr. Van Kooten’s expertise in “bridge building.”

Bridges Q & A

What is a dental bridge?

Dental bridges close the space created by one or more missing teeth. Dr. Van Kooten places a crown on either side of the missing tooth or teeth. The crowns help anchor the false tooth or teeth. The replacement teeth, called pontics, are made of alloys, porcelain, or a combination of them and sit between the two crowns.

What are the benefits of dental bridges?

Bridges are used to:      

  • Enable you to chew more easily
  • Help you speak clearly
  • Maintain your jawline
  • Keep your bite correct
  • Ensure that surrounding teeth remain in position
  • Are generally covered at least partially by dental insurance

What happens during a bridge procedure?

Bridges involve at least two dental visits. At the first visit, Dr. Van Kooten takes X-rays of the teeth to ensure that the roots are healthy and can support crowns. Then she begins to prepare the crowns that are placed on either side of the empty space where the old tooth was. She makes impressions of the teeth, which a lab will use to make the crowns and the pontic, or artificial tooth that replaces the old one. She also provides a temporary bridge to protect the teeth and gums while the new bridge is made.

At the next visit, she removes the temporary bridge and gently guides the permanent bridge into place, checking it to ensure that it fits properly. She applies a temporary adhesive to allow you to adjust to the new teeth for a week or two. At the final visit, she cements it into place.

What is the recovery time?

Within a week or two, you’ll be back to normal. In the meantime, eat soft foods, and cut food into small pieces.

How long does a bridge last?

A bridge may last many years with good oral hygiene, proper dental care, and good physical health.

What can I do to ensure a long life for the bridge?

Brushing and flossing daily along with using an antiseptic mouthwash is critical for oral health.

Visiting Dr. Van Kooten regularly at six-month intervals for an exam and cleaning helps to pinpoint any areas that could become trouble spots and treat them proactively.