Source: Tooth Doctor.
If you’ve long been living with one or more missing teeth, you were likely fitted with a dental bridge to hide the gap in your smile.
But what happens when your dental bridge breaks? Can a dental bridge be repaired? And if so, is fixing really the wisest choice?
Continue reading to find out!
For a long time, dental bridges were the most common way to solve the challenge of tooth loss. But that doesn’t mean that this method of tooth restoration is without its problems.
Since they’re not made to last a lifetime, dental bridges can quickly become loose or damaged, be affected by tooth decay and - if worse comes to worst, they may even damage your surrounding teeth.
Not to mention that any change in the alignment of your teeth can have dramatic effects on how a bridge fits in your mouth.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Let’s take a step back to examine what a dental bridge is - and how it’s meant to work.
Put in a nutshell; a dental bridge is a row of artificial teeth that fills (or bridges) the space in your mouth where one or more teeth are missing.
To make a dental bridge work, your dentist will anchor the bridge to the surrounding, healthy teeth on either side of the gap. Although often perfectly healthy, the adjacent teeth will have to be shaved down to accommodate the bridge.
The purpose of a dental bridge is to restore your bite and smile and prevent your remaining teeth from shifting into the gaps.
Unfortunately, this method does little to prevent bone and gum loss since neither the jaw bone nor your gums are now being stimulated.
This is where dental implants have the upper hand. You can read more about the difference between dental bridges and dental implants here.
Why Might a Dental Bridge Need Repair?
Common Causes of Dental Bridge Failure
Poor oral hygiene or lack thereof.
Without proper and diligent oral care, you risk bacteria entering the space between your gums and bridge, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Only regular brushing and flossing can reduce this risk. Regular professional dental cleanings are also highly recommended. This ties perfectly into the next point.
Not seeing your dentist regularly.
Good personal oral hygiene is essential to prolonging the life of your dental bridge, but your efforts shouldn’t end there. Regular visits to your dentist are a must.
You’re (probably) not an expert in restorative dentistry. Therefore, you need to make sure to see your dentist regularly.
They can catch any potential problems with your bridge, such as early signs of gum disease and nip it in the bud to avoid failure or lasting damage.
Changes to the supporting teeth.
If the teeth that support your bridge begin to shift or are affected by gum disease and tooth decay, the stability of your dental bridge is at risk.
Without the support of the surrounding teeth, a dental bridge will inevitably become unstable, resulting in complete failure if you don’t act quickly.
Chewing on a pen or grinding your teeth.
Do you have bad habits that affect your smile? Such as chewing on a pen or nighttime teeth grinding? Or do you perhaps love hard candy?
We don’t want to make you feel guilty about these things, but you need to know that your habits can negatively affect your bridge and drastically shorten its lifespan.
Bridges, like your natural teeth, may be made to cope with the force of chewing and biting, but the ongoing exposure to hard materials will eventually leave cracks and marks.
Small chips and cracks are often repairable, but more significant breaks may require a brand new bridge - or alternatively, a dental implant.
An improper or ill-fitting bridge.
Your dentist will have to file down the surrounding healthy teeth to place the bridge. This makes them more susceptible to decay, increasing the risk of tooth damage and bridge instability.
Since a poorly fitted bridge can cause an array of problems, including tooth decay and gum disease, the fitting of a dental bridge should only be undertaken by a trained dentist.
When Is It Time To See Your Dentist?
Remember, dental bridges aren't meant to be a permanent solution, but you can do your part to ensure they will last at least five to seven years.
Again, because at least two of your natural teeth are covered by the bridge, signs of dental decay may not be visible to you.
Therefore, any sign of sensitivity, be it of the teeth or gums around your dental bridge, should be taken seriously and reasonably enough to see your dentist.
Signs to watch out for:
- Sensitivity in the teeth or gums around a dental bridge
- Pain or sensitivity when chewing or brushing
- A crack or chip in your bridge
- A piece of porcelain has come off
- The bridge doesn't fit well in your mouth or feels loose
- The colour doesn't match your surrounding teeth
Can a Dental Bridge be Removed and Recemented?
Now that you know the signs of dental bridge failure and how to spot damage to your dental bridge, can a broken bridge be fixed?
In short: It entirely depends on the overall integrity of the bridge and what caused the damage.
A loose bridge might be easy to remove and repair and can then be recemented back into place.
Keep in mind; the cement is designed to last for years and keep the bridge in place. This can make it nearly impossible to remove a bridge without damaging the surrounding teeth.
Sometimes, dentists have no other choice but to drill off a bridge piece by piece and then create an entirely new one to protect the rest of the smile.
Which approach your dentist chooses depends on:
- How loose or tight the dental bridge sits in your mouth.
- Why the dental bridge failed and whether this will pose a future risk.
- How healthy your surrounding teeth are and whether they will be able to hold a new bridge.
- What your needs and preferences are - perhaps you are better served with one of the alternatives below.
Alternatives to Dental Bridges
Alternative 1: Dental Implants
A dental implant might be a great alternative to a dental bridge if you’re only missing one or two teeth.
A dental implant is a very reliable, permanent method of tooth replacement that looks and functions just like your natural teeth.
Instead of fixing or replacing a broken dental bridge with a new one, your dentist will remove the bridge altogether and then surgically place (implant) a titanium screw to imitate the root of your missing tooth.
A natural-looking tooth or row of teeth is then attached to the implant.
The upfront cost for a dental implant may be higher than that of a dental bridge, but since they’re more durable and - with the proper care, can last you a lifetime, making them better value for money.
Alternative 2: All-on-4® with Dental Implants
All-on-4® is a restorative technique that allows the replacement of a complete upper or lower set of teeth. This makes it ideal for anyone with multiple missing teeth or dental bridges looking for a permanent solution to the gaps in their smile.
This revolutionary treatment sees four implants placed into the jawbone to avoid areas of low bone density, which aren’t uncommon after decades of wearing dental bridges or dentures.
A fixed bridge with a complete set of new teeth is then attached to those dental implants.
And there are more benefits to All-on-4® with Dental Implants:
- All-on-4® looks natural, feels great and functions just like real teeth.
- It's a permanent solution that can last a lifetime.
- New teeth are fit immediately within 24hrs of surgery.
- It is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces downtime.
- All-on-4® does not require bone grafting.
- It provides for easy maintenance and cleaning.
- All-on-4® acts like natural teeth and prevents bone loss.
Are you interested in learning more about All-on-4®, the modern alternative to dental bridges and dentures? Give us a call at 1300 625 628 or visit our website to learn more about All-on-4® with Dental Implants.
If you’d like to join a free webinar information session or arrange for a personal consultation with one of our lead surgeons, you can also get in touch with us online.