Do Dental Bridges Need To Be Replaced?

Dentist Articles

If you're missing teeth, a dental bridge is an affordable way to fill in the gaps. Although dental bridges are permanent fixtures in the mouth, they sometimes fail and need to be replaced. Here are a few common reasons why bridges fail and what you can do to extend the life of your dental appliance.

The Average Lifespan of Dental Bridges

There are three primary kinds of dental bridges used by dentists:

  • Traditional Fixed Bridge – This type of bridge features crowns on either side of a false tooth (or teeth) that fasten to two existing teeth that serve as an anchor for the appliance. Typically, the anchoring teeth have to be shaped to fit the crowns, and the piece is bonded in place.
  • Resin-Bonded Bridge – This type of bridge uses metal bands to secure the false tooth in position. The metal bands (also called wings) are cemented to the surrounding teeth using an adhesive. This type of bridge is generally used for front teeth.
  • Cantilever Bridge – This bridge type is similar to a resin-bonded bridge, except the tooth is only bonded to one tooth on one side instead of both.

With proper care, dental bridges are expected to last at least 10 to 15 years. Some dentists reported having patients whose bridges lasted 20 to 30 years or longer. However, some patients report needing to have their bridges replaced much sooner than that, and there are several reasons that could account for such early failure rates.

Causes of Dental Bridge Failure

The primary cause of dental bridge failure is tooth decay. This decay can be caused by genetics, health diseases such as diabetes, or poor oral hygiene. Due to genetic conditions, some people are more prone to tooth decay, and no matter how well they brush and floss, their teeth deteriorate and cause the bridge to fall out or require removal.

Other people develop health problems that have a negative impact on tooth and bone health. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels. The excess sugar in the blood is also present in saliva which, in turn, leads to accelerated tooth decay.

Poor oral hygiene, however, is typically the primary culprit for dental bridge failure. Although bridges are supposed to fit tight against the gums and anchor teeth, sometimes spaces develop between the crown and the anchor tooth. Rough brushing can also cause gums to recede, exposing the base of the crowned teeth to bacteria. This bacterium can crawl into these gaps and leave behind plaque that eats away at the tooth until it eventually deteriorates badly enough to cause the bridge to fail.

In the case of resin-bonded and cantilever bridges, the most common cause of bridge failure is contamination of the bonding agent. When the bridges are being placed on the teeth, the area must remain completely dry for the cement to fully take hold. Any introduction of saliva or other moisture will prevent full bonding and the bridge will eventually fall off.

Tips for Preventing Dental Bridge Failure

The best way to prevent dental bridge failure is to keep the supporting teeth as healthy as possible. This means eliminating plaque buildup by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once per day. To stop gums from receding, use a soft bristled toothbrush and use gentle strokes when cleaning near the gum line.

It may be a good idea to use a Waterpik to clean between any gaps that may have developed between the crowns, tooth, and gums near your bridge. This product and similar ones force water between teeth, which has been shown to be effective at removing plaque.

Following a healthy, tooth-friendly diet is also crucial. Be sure to eat plenty of calcium-containing foods like broccoli and cheese to strengthen teeth and bones. Getting any health conditions that can adversely affect your oral health under control, like heart disease and diabetes,can also help increase the longevity of your dental bridges.

For more information about making your bridges last or fixing a broken dental appliance, make an appointment with a dentist near you.

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26 January 2015