Dental bridge: Everything you need to know

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge can replace a tooth or several teeth. The fake teeth in dental bridges look and function like real teeth. For a bridge, a person may see a prosthodontist, a dentist who specializes in restoring and replacing missing teeth, or a regular dentist. Either way, there are many options for filling a gap in a smile.

One option is to have a crown — a fake bit of tooth attached to a small portion of real tooth that the dentist has ground down. When a person has lost a tooth or the dentist has had to remove it, however, a crown alone is not an option, and a dental bridge may be the best choice.

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The term “bridge” refers to a structure that contains one or more fake teeth. The structure is often anchored in place with one or more crowns on either side of the gap in the mouth. For example, if a person loses several front teeth, due to injury or decay, a doctor may use a bridge to fill in the gap.

A person may not wish to have a gap in their teeth, after having a tooth removed, for example, because they need a tooth in the area for chewing or because of cosmetic concerns.

For some people, a permanent dental implant is an alternative to a bridge. Dental implants are fake teeth that dentists surgically insert into bone in the mouth. For others, dentists recommend implants to help secure a bridge, particularly if many teeth are missing.

Uses

A dental bridge can help a person feel more comfortable with their smile. It can also enable them to chew normally.

When a person loses one or more teeth, it can affect their bite, causing pain or difficulty eating. Replacing those teeth prevents these complications.

A person may need a bridge if:

  • a tooth is so decayed that it falls out or a dentist removes it
  • an accident or injury damages a tooth beyond repair
  • decay or infection is so deep within a tooth that neither a filling nor a root canal are sufficient

Types

Dentists use several types of bridges:

  • A traditional bridge involves two crowns — sometimes called abutments — anchoring the fake tooth or teeth. This is the most popular type of bridge, and it can be fixed or removable.
  • A cantilever bridge requires only one crown for support. This involves a less intensive procedure and may be a good option for people who do not want to damage healthy teeth. However, the single crown can act as a lever, increasing the risk of tooth and jaw damage.
  • Maryland bridges are more conservative and less invasive than traditional or cantilever bridges. The bridge is anchored by metal or porcelain frameworks attached to the backs of teeth on either side of the gap. These bridges can preserve healthy teeth, but they are less secure.
  • Implant-supported bridges use dental implants as anchors. This type of bridge is more expensive and invasive but more secure.

Why does my tooth still hurt after a filling?

Most of the time, this sensitivity is normal and will resolve within a few days or weeks. A person should call their dentist right away if they have extreme pain, or if discomfort occurs with other symptoms, such as fever, redness, or swelling.

In this article, we look at the reasons why a person may have tooth sensitivity after a filling, how to treat it, and when to see a doctor or dentist. We also look at other possible causes of tooth sensitivity.

What should I expect after a filling?

A filling is a dental procedure that involves a dentist cleaning away any decay from the tooth and then filling the space with a new material.

After injecting a numbing agent around the tooth, the dentist will then clean out the decayed area of the tooth, usually with a dental drill. They will then fill the space with gold, silver amalgam, a composite, or porcelain.

For several hours after having a filling, a person’s face may still feel numb, tingly, itchy, or puffy. They may have difficulty eating, swallowing, talking, or moving their face.

Sometimes, dentists recommend that people avoid eating or drinking for a few hours, as this may result in a person accidentally biting their tongue or cheek.

Once the numbing agent has worn off, these feelings will go away. But, in the following days and weeks, a person may notice some new sensations as they adjust to the new filling.

Sensitivity in the filled tooth or area around it is one of the most common occurrences during this time.

What does sensitivity after a filling feel like?

When a person has a sensitive tooth, they may notice that certain triggers cause a temporary, uncomfortable sensation in the filled tooth or surrounding area. It may feel like a shock of cold or sudden pain that comes on quickly and goes away.

Factors that can trigger tooth sensitivity after a filling include:

  • cold foods or drinks, such as ice cream, popsicles, or beverages with ice
  • hot drinks, such as coffee or tea
  • air hitting the tooth, such as when breathing through the mouth, which may be worse with cold air
  • sugary foods, such as candy
  • acidic foods and drinks, including fruit, juice, and coffee
  • biting down when eating

Why do fillings cause tooth sensitivity?

ome sensitivity after a tooth filling is normal and temporary. Sometimes, however, sensitivity after a filling is due to other causes that need treatment or repair.
Short-term tooth sensitivity after a filling usually occurs because the filling procedure has aggravated or caused inflammation in the nerve inside the tooth.

Usually, the tooth’s outer layers — the enamel and cementum — protect the nerve from exposure. But fillings, especially deep ones, can get close to the nerve endings and cause irritation and uncomfortable sensations.

As the nerve heals, the sensitivity will go away. This may take a few days or weeks. Once the nerve has healed fully, a person should feel no difference between the filled tooth and the other teeth.

Everything you need to know about fluoride treatment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that fluoridated water has reduced tooth decay by about 25 percent. Fluoride treatments may offer even more significant benefits to protect teeth. These treatments can be beneficial to people at risk of tooth decay but may not be right for everyone.

In this article, we look at the benefits and side effects of fluoride and fluoride treatment, as well as treatment recommendations.

What is fluoride treatment?

Fluoride treatments are typically professional treatments containing a high concentration of fluoride that a dentist or hygienist will apply to a person’s teeth to improve health and reduce the risk of cavities. These in-office treatments may take the form of a solution, gel, foam, or varnish.

There are also some high-concentration fluoride treatments that people can use at home but only under the specific direction of a dentist.

The fluoride dentists use in these treatments is similar to the fluoride in toothpaste. However, the treatment contains much higher doses and may offer more rapid benefits.

Benefits of fluoride and fluoride treatments

Fluoride has several benefits for the teeth:

  1. It helps the body better use minerals, such as calcium and phosphate. The teeth reabsorb these minerals to repair weak tooth enamel.
  2. It joins into the tooth structure when teeth are developing to strengthen the enamel of the teeth, making them less vulnerable to bacteria and cavities for life.
  3. It slows or even reverses the development of cavities by harming bacteria that cause cavities.

When taken together, these benefits may help to:

  • reduce the risk of cavities
  • slow the growth of cavities
  • delay the need for expensive dental work
  • prolong the life of baby teeth
  • reduce the amount of time and money a person has to spend at the dentist

By preventing cavities and slowing the growth of bacteria, fluoride treatment may also:

  • prevent gum disease
  • reduce tooth pain
  • prevent the premature loss of teeth

Fluoride treatments can improve oral health, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a major predictor of overall health. Poor oral health can cause a range of other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease.