Dental injuries are common among hockey players, and the upper central incisors are the most likely to be knocked out. If you've taken a puck or stick to the face and now have an unwanted gap in the middle of your smile, you may be wondering how you should get it fixed. Many restorations are available for missing teeth, including resin-supported bridges. Here are four things you need to know about resin-supported bridges.
What are resin-supported bridges?
Resin-supported bridges are dental restorations that can be used to replace missing teeth. The artificial teeth are held in place by the natural teeth on either side of the gap. A metal or porcelain framework on both sides of the bridge is used to hold the restoration in place. This framework will be glued to the backs of the adjacent teeth with resin. For example, if you've knocked out your two front teeth, two artificial front teeth will be held in place by your lateral incisors.
How do they differ from other bridges?
The main difference between resin-supported bridges and other types of bridges is the way they're attached. Traditional bridges are held in place by crowns on top of the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth. These teeth need to be filed down to allow the crowns to fit over top, so it's a fairly invasive procedure.
Some of your teammates may have removable bridges that are held in place by a metal framework that hooks onto their adjacent teeth like a retainer. Since resin-supported bridges are glued in place, you won't be able to remove your new bridge by yourself; it can only be removed by your dentist.
How are resin-supported bridges placed?
The procedure for placing resin-supported bridges is simpler than the procedure required for traditional bridges since your adjacent teeth won't need to be prepared for crowns. Since your bridge will need to be custom-made, plan for two separate appointments.
During your first appointment, your dentist will take an impression of your mouth using alginate impression material. This impression will then be used to create a mold of your mouth. Your dentist will then send this mold to a dental laboratory, and they'll use it to craft your new resin-supported bridge.
Once your bridge has been created, you'll go back to the dentist to have it placed. Your dentist will clean the backs of the teeth that will form the anchor for the bridge, and then etch their surfaces. They will then apply a layer of resin to the backs of the teeth, and then press the bridge into position. Once your dentist is satisfied that the bridge is in the perfect position, they will quickly harden the resin with a dental curing light.
When can you return to hockey?
Since getting a resin-supported bridge is a noninvasive procedure, recovery doesn't take long. The resin is fully cured by the dental curing light, so as soon as your anesthesia wears off, you'll be fully recovered.
Before you get back on the ice, make sure to get a new mouthguard made. Now that your front teeth have been replaced with a bridge, your old mouthguard won't fit properly. The front teeth may not be the exact same shape they were before, and the framework on the backs of your lateral incisors will also affect the fit of your mouthguard. Once you have a new mouthguard, you'll be ready to get back on the ice.
If you've knocked out some of your teeth playing hockey, see your dentist right away to close the gap in your smile. Ask your dentist if resin-supported bridges are the best restoration option for you.