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A gap-toothed smile can make you look absolutely darling — if you’re less than seven years old. Otherwise, a missing tooth negatively effects your appearance – causing your mouth to sink and your face to look older, effecting the way you chew and speak, and placing unusual stress on your teeth and the tissues in your mouth, by forcing them to compensate for the extra space.

Luckily, bridges can easily fill in these compromising gaps. There are two types – fixed and removable. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dentist whereas a removable bridge can be taken out for cleaning. Removable bridges, while less expensive, may not be as effective or last as long as a fixed bridge.

Your dentist will help you decide which type of bridge is more appropriate for you. If you need extensive bridgework, your dentist may also refer you to a dentist who specializes in restoring natural teeth and replacing missing teeth called a prosthodontist.

After you’re fitted for a bridge, it’s very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy. If you don’t, and the teeth or bone that hold the bridge in place become damaged by disease, the bridge can lose its support and cease fitting properly. To prevent this from happening, brush twice a day and floss regularly, being very careful to clean the areas under, around and between the bridge and your natural teeth. If you have difficulties reaching some areas of your mouth, purchase a dental floss threader or special brush to help. Above all, make sure you see your Michigan Dental Association dentist for regular check-ups to ensure all goes well.

Remember, the ultimate success or failure of a fixed bridge depends on its foundation. Keep your gums and remaining teeth healthy – your dental health and your appearance (not to mention your smile) are well worth the effort!

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