Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by missing tooth can mean greater strain on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your ‘bite’ is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.
This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision. There are three main ways to replace missing teeth. The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth – a denture. The second is with a fixed bridge, and the third is with an implant (discussed elsewhere). A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
Usually, if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide which is the best way of replacing the teeth within your budget.
Bridges are usually made of a porcelain bonded to a metal or hardened ceramic core. They can also be made from just metal (unsightly but cheap) or all-ceramic zirconia.
Although a bridge may seem expensive it will last many years. It will also improve your appearance and bite. A bridge uses the considerable skill of the dentist and technician - who will hand-craft it, and so it is similar to ordering a piece of hand-made jewellery. The materials are also expensive so it’s fair to say a bridge will not be the cheapest treatment you have ever had.
You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease, cleaning under the replaced tooth as well. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use special techniques, as a normal toothbrush may not reach.
There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dentist about them. You can also have teeth implanted, ask your dentist for more information. Remember that it’s as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.
Yes, there are different types of bridge which use different fixing methods. Your dentist will choose the most effective and conservative bridge for your personal situation.