Dental bridges have long been a trusted solution for replacing missing teeth. When done correctly, they can restore both function and aesthetics to your smile.
However, like any dental treatment, dental bridges are not immune to complications. To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your bridge, it’s crucial to recognize and address common issues that may arise over time.
Here are some of the potential complications of dental bridges and insights on prevention and early intervention:
Understanding Dental Bridges
Before delving into complications, let’s briefly understand what dental bridges are. A dental bridge consists of a false tooth, known as a pontic, which is anchored on each side by a crown. These crowns are placed over healthy abutment teeth, providing support for the pontic and effectively “bridging” the gap left by a missing tooth.
While bridges can be an excellent solution for tooth replacement, several complications can affect their durability and functionality.
Complications of Dental Bridge
1. Decay around the Bridge
One common complication of dental bridges is decay around the abutment teeth. Since these teeth are covered with crowns, they may become vulnerable to decay if proper oral hygiene isn’t maintained. Brushing and flossing under the bridge can be challenging, making it essential to pay extra attention to these areas. Regularly check for cavities around the margins of the crowns.
To prevent decay around the bridge, maintain meticulous oral hygiene practices. Consider using floss threaders or interdental brushes to clean hard-to-reach areas.
2. Loosening of the Bridge
The success of a dental bridge relies on the secure bonding of crowns to the abutment teeth. However, factors like age, trauma, or an improper fit can lead to the loosening of the bridge. When the bridge becomes loose, it can affect both its stability and functionality.
Ensure that your bridge is properly fitted and regularly inspected by your dentist to detect any signs of loosening, and recemented if possible.
Dental bridges in front teeth can be susceptible to fractures caused by excessive biting forces, trauma, grinding, or clenching. These fractures can occur in various components of the bridge, including the pontics, connectors, or crowns. Porcelain components may chip, and metal parts can fatigue and break over time.
If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, consider using a custom-made nightguard to protect your bridge from excessive forces. Additionally, avoid biting on hard objects or foods.
4. Corroded Metal
For bridges made of porcelain-fused-to-metal, there’s a risk of the inner metal framework corroding due to exposure to saliva or acidic substances. This corrosion can cause the crowns to crack and compromise the integrity of the bridge.
Maintain good oral hygiene to minimize exposure to acidic substances. Regular dental checkups can help identify early signs of metal corrosion.
5.Tooth Decay or Loss
The health of the abutment teeth is essential for the longevity of your dental bridge. If these teeth decay, require root canals, or are lost for any reason, the bridge may need to be removed and recemented by your dentist.
Prioritize the oral health of your abutment teeth through regular dental checkups and prompt treatment of any issues.
6. Gum Inflammation
Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to plaque buildup around the abutment teeth, eventually causing gum inflammation. Periodontal disease can compromise the stability of the bridge and may necessitate corrective measures.
Practice good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, to prevent gum inflammation.
7. Aesthetic Issues
Over time, natural teeth may shift, potentially affecting the appearance of your dental bridge. The pontic (false tooth) can also develop an unnatural look compared to your natural teeth.
Regularly monitor the appearance of your bridge, and consult your dentist if you notice any aesthetic changes. Adjustments or replacements may be necessary to maintain a seamless appearance.
10 Tips for Maintaining a Dental Bridge
Proper care and regular maintenance can help prevent complications and keep your bridge in excellent condition with optimal longevity and functionality.
Here are some key aspects of dental bridge maintenance:
- Oral Hygiene:
Good oral hygiene is crucial for the health of your dental bridge and the abutment teeth supporting it. Brush your teeth and bridge at least twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush. Pay special attention to cleaning around and beneath the bridge to remove food particles and plaque.
Flossing under the bridge can be challenging, but it’s essential to prevent decay and gum inflammation. Dental floss threaders or interdental brushes can help you reach these areas effectively. Regular flossing helps remove debris and plaque buildup.
- Antimicrobial Rinse:
An antimicrobial mouthwash can help reduce bacteria in your mouth and minimize the risk of gum inflammation and infections. Consult your dentist for recommendations on an appropriate mouthwash.
- Regular Dental Checkups:
Schedule regular dental checkups, usually every six months or as recommended by your dentist. During these appointments, your dentist will examine your bridge, abutment teeth, and overall oral health. They can detect early signs of complications and provide necessary interventions.
- Nightguard for Bruxism:
If you grind or clench your teeth, especially at night, consider using a custom-made nightguard. Grinding and clenching can put excessive pressure on your bridge, leading to fractures or other issues. A nightguard helps protect your bridge and natural teeth from these forces.
- Balanced Diet:
Maintain a balanced diet that’s low in sugary and acidic foods. These types of foods can increase the risk of decay and corrosion around the bridge and abutment teeth. Opt for tooth-friendly snacks and beverages.
- Avoid Chewing on Hard Objects:
Refrain from biting on hard objects like ice, pens, or fingernails. These habits can cause fractures in the bridge or damage the crowns.
- Address Any Discomfort or Changes:
If you experience discomfort, pain, or notice any changes in the fit or appearance of your dental bridge, contact your dentist promptly. Early intervention can prevent complications from worsening.
- Professional Cleanings:
Regular dental cleanings are essential for maintaining the health of your natural teeth and the abutment teeth. Dental hygienists can thoroughly clean around the bridge and remove any stubborn plaque or tartar buildup.
- Replacement or Adjustment:
Dental bridges typically have a lifespan of 5 to 15 years, depending on various factors. If your bridge shows signs of wear, deterioration, or complications that cannot be resolved with maintenance, your dentist may recommend replacement or adjustments to ensure continued functionality.
What are some Alternatives to Dental Bridges?
If your dental bridge fails or develops complications, your dentist may be able to repair the it. This could involve fixing a loose crown or replacing a damaged component.
But if the bridge cannot be repaired or if it has reached the end of its lifespan, your dentist may recommend replacing it with a new bridge. The new bridge can be designed to address any previous issues and provide a secure fit.
In some cases, you may need to consider alternative tooth replacement options, such as:
1. Dental Implants:
Dental implants are a popular and highly effective option for replacing missing teeth. They involve surgically placing a titanium implant into the jawbone to replace the tooth’s root. Once the implant integrates with the bone, a crown is attached to the implant. Dental implants are known for their stability, durability, and natural appearance. They don’t require altering adjacent healthy teeth as bridges do.
2. Partial Dentures:
Partial dentures are removable appliances that replace one or several missing teeth. They consist of artificial teeth attached to a gum-colored base. Partial dentures can be an economical solution, especially when multiple teeth are missing in different areas of the mouth.
An overdenture is a type of removable partial or full denture that covers and rests on top of dental implants, natural teeth roots, or a combination of both. Overdentures can be used to replace multiple missing teeth, and might be a good option if you still have some healthy natural teeth remaining.
4. Full Arch Restorations:
If you have a full arch bridge that fails, you might explore options like implant-supported dentures to support a full arch of complete dentures.
The best course of action following dental bridge failure depends on the specific circumstances, your oral health, and your treatment goals. It’s essential to consult with your dentist, who can evaluate your situation, discuss your options, and recommend the most suitable treatment plan tailored to your needs.
While bridges can last 5-15 years if properly cared for, various complications can arise. See your dentist promptly if you notice any problems. Getting regular dental cleanings and checkups helps prevent more extensive bridge repairs down the road. Be vigilant to maximize your bridge lifespan.