As you consider dental procedures, it is important to consider the longterm effect of the procedure. Is the suggested procedure a permanent fix or will it require a replacement after several years? One common dental procedure that many patients have questions about is dental bridges.
Do dental bridges need to be replaced? Although dental bridges are a longterm solution, they are not permanent. Because of this, they will need to be replaced at some point. The replacement may be due to deterioration of the bridge, damage to the bridge, or other issues affecting your oral health.
While dental bridges often require an eventual replacement, they are still a highly recommended dental procedure with many benefits. For most patients, dental bridges are one of the best ways to replace a missing or damaged tooth. Keep reading to learn more about this common dental procedure.
What You Need to Know About Dental Bridges
As you consider your upcoming dental bridge procedure, you likely have numerous questions. While your dentist can answer questions regarding your unique situation, we hope this guide provides you with an excellent overview of the use, longevity, and replacement of dental bridges.
What Are Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are one of the most common restorative dentistry procedures. Using a dental bridge, your dentist can replace a missing or damaged tooth, easily closing gaps in your smile. Dental bridges are comprised of a pontic, or false tooth that is held in place by two abutments on either side of the pontic.
The abutments that secure the dental bridge are cemented to neighboring teeth that are in excellent condition. For this reason, dental bridges are only an option for patients who have healthy, strong teeth.
The pontic is typically made from porcelain as it is the closest match to the natural tooth. Porcelain mimics both the look and function of natural teeth. However, pontics can also be made using materials such as gold, composite resin, or others. Your dentist will be able to recommend a dental bridge material that is best for your unique needs.
Uses for Dental Bridges
There are many uses for dental bridges. Some of the reasons your dentist may recommend this restorative dentistry procedure include the following:
- replace a missing tooth
- repair a gap in your smile
- allow you to chew properly
- aid in proper speech and pronunciation
- protect the surrounding teeth from damage
- maintain your face shape
For the reasons listed above, as well as others, dental bridges are a cost-effective solution for a wide variety of patients.
The Longevity of Dental Bridges
As mentioned previously, dental bridges are not a permanent solution. They are, however, a longterm solution. With proper oral hygiene and placement, most dental bridges last between 5 to 15 years. At this point, you will need to replace the dental bridge or consider another alternative for repair.
Reasons for Dental Bridge Replacement
There are many reasons why you may need to replace your dental bridge at some point. Educating yourself on reasons you may require a replacement will help you take better care of your dental bridge and ensure optimal longevity.
Age of Dental Bridge
The most common reason for a dental bridge replacement is the age of the dental bridge. After having your dental bridge for 10 to 12 years, your dentist may suggest a replacement to avoid the possibility of an emergency situation. Replacing your dental bridge as it nears the end of its useful life allows you to control the timeline and minimize the cost of your procedure.
Damage to Dental Bridge
Although pontics use artificial materials, they are still susceptible to cracking or chipping. When your dental bridge is damaged in any way, it will most likely require replacement. Failing to replace your dental bridge when it becomes damaged may open yourself up to oral injury, decay, or disease.
If you suspect that you have damaged your dental bridge in any way, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dental team.
Infection or Decay Surrounding Dental Bridge
Unfortunately, the teeth and gums surrounding your dental bridge are still susceptible to infection or decay. If this becomes reality, you may need to replace your dental bridge. For this reason, you must practice proper oral hygiene habits to care for both your bridge and the surrounding teeth and tissue.
Dental Bridge Becomes Loose
Over time, the cement that attaches the abutments to the surrounding teeth may become loose. If this happens, your teeth or gums become more susceptible to injury. Because of this, it is important to replace your dental bridge if it becomes loose at any point in time.
Types of Dental Bridges
There are several types of dental bridges that are used in various situations. Here are a few of the most common types of dental bridges:
Traditional Dental Bridges
Traditional dental bridges are by far the most popular type of dental bridge. A traditional dental bridge is used when the patient has healthy natural teeth on both sides of the gap. With a traditional dental bridge, the pontic, or false tooth, is cemented to the abutment teeth on either side of the missing tooth. Traditional dental bridges are often the most cost-effective solution for patients.
Maryland bridges are quite similar to traditional dental bridges. When using Maryland bridges, the patient must have strong and healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth. Unlike traditional dental bridges that rely on cement to attach to the abutment teeth, Maryland bridges use a metal or porcelain framework that attaches to the back of the abutment teeth.
Cantilever dental bridges are an excellent alternative for patients who have only one healthy tooth next to the missing tooth. Similar in other ways to a traditional dental bridge, cantilever bridges are held in place by a dental crown that is attached to one abutment tooth using cement.
Although implant-supported bridges are by far the most expensive type of dental bridge, they also are the strongest. Implant-supported bridges require an extensive procedure that includes multiple surgeries that take place over several months.
Implant-supported bridges rely on surgically-placed implants to hold the bridge in position. If there are several missing teeth, a bridge with a pontic, or false tooth, may be supported by two implanted-supported dental crowns. This solution is most often used for patients requiring extensive intervention or individuals with several missing teeth.
Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants
Depending on the reason why your dentist has recommended a dental bridge, you may have options regarding your procedure. The most common alternative to dental bridges is a dental implant.
Although dental implants are a much more time-intensive and invasive procedure, they can provide a permanent solution. If cared for properly, dental implants will not require eventual replacement. This can make the higher price of the investment well worth it to many individuals.
It is important to consider your insurance coverage into the equation as well. While most insurance plans will at least partially cover a dental bridge, many do not cover implants. At the end of the day, it is important to follow your dentist’s recommendation regarding treatment as they have insight into your unique needs and circumstance.
Are you in need of a dental bridge or dental bridge replacement? We have a team of dental bridge experts ready to help you! Proper placement along with excellent oral hygiene can ensure that your dental bridge serves you well for many years to come. Contact our team today to learn more about dental bridges!