Has your dental bridge become loose? While an ill-fitting bridge needs to be examined and re-cemented by your dentist, you may be able to temporarily stabilize it yourself for the short term.
For instance, you can try using orthodontic wax to act as a sticky binding agent and press it gently over parts of the bridge to add grip against the teeth. Denture adhesive pastes or powders can also temporarily cement the loose bridge. But be very gentle with the bridge and avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods that could dislodge it further.
For more temporary and immediate action, you can try chewing firm gum on the opposite side of the loose bridge to shift it back into place slightly through your chewing motion. You can also try biting down gently on a folded washcloth, which applies pressure to the bridge to hold it steady.
These tips can help stabilize a loose bridge for a day or two before you’re able to see your dentist for a permanent repair.
Causes of a Loose Dental Bridge
There are several potential reasons a fixed bridge can become loose or detached:
- Loss of cement – Over time, the dental cement used to adhere the bridge can wash away or deteriorate. This allows the bridge to detach.
- Tooth decay – Untreated cavities under the bridge can weaken abutment teeth and cause loosening.
- Gum disease – Inflamed, receding gums around abutment teeth lose their hold on the bridge.
- Trauma or teeth grinding – An injury or excessive clenching and grinding can crack the bridge or break the cement seal.
- Poorly fitted bridge – Bridges not properly fitted by the dentist may not adhere well from the start.
Don’t ignore a loose dental bridge. If left for too long it could fall out and be lost or swallowed. It must be re-cemented quickly to prevent damage to abutment teeth and additional dental costs.
Dangers of an Unstable Bridge
Letting a loose bridge go unfixed allows for a number of problems including:
- Teeth shifting – This can cause a poor bite (occlusion) and new gaps which the bridge no longer fills.
- Tooth decay – Pockets under a loose bridge collect food and bacteria leading to decay.
- Damage to abutment teeth – Rocking or twisting of a loose bridge can fracture natural tooth structure.
- Swallowing or choking – An extremely loose bridge at risk for falling out poses a choking hazard if accidentally inhaled or swallowed.
- Bone loss – Abutment teeth not bearing weight properly due to bridge instability can cause the jawbone to recede.
- Infection – Bacteria can enter openings and cause infection in the gums or root of abutment teeth.
While you should see your dentist immediately for a loose bridge, you may be able to temporarily stabilize it yourself for a day or two using these home tips:
Home Remedies to Stabilize a Loose Bridge
Adhere with orthodontic wax
Use the sticky wax bands designed to reduce brace irritation by pressing it over parts of the loose bridge to add grip against teeth.
Chew gum on the side opposite the bridge
The chewing action can help gently push and stabilize the bridge in the meantime. Opt for sugar-free gum.
Bite down on a washcloth
Place a folded washcloth or small towel between the upper and lower teeth and gently bite down to exert pressure on the loose bridge.
Use denture adhesive
Choose a reputable denture adhesive available in paste or powder form. Apply a small amount to the surface of the loose bridge, and it will act as a temporary stabilizing cement.
Eat soft foods only
Prevent completely dislodging the bridge by sticking to soft foods. Avoid hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods that could pull it out.
Remove if very loose
A bridge falling out on its own poses a choking risk. Take the bridge out yourself and store safely if extremely loose.
Should you fix a loose dental bridge at home?
- Provides a temporary fix to hold the bridge in place and prevent it from getting looser or falling out completely before you can see a dentist. This prevents having to carry around a dislodged bridge.
- Helps avoid further damage to the abutment teeth that support the bridge which can happen if the bridge is moving around extensively.
- Can prevent the bridge from being inhaled or swallowed if it starts to detach fully.
- Allows you to continue eating somewhat normally by stabilizing the loose bridge enough for chewing soft foods.
- Home fixes are very temporary and you still need to see a dentist ASAP to properly examine the bridge and re-cement it for a long-term solution.
- You run the risk of dislodging the bridge even more if improper force or pressure is applied when trying to stabilize it.
- Orthodontic wax can only do so much and may not keep the bridge perfectly still. Similarly, temporary adhesives like denture cream are not formulated to permanently bond a dental bridge in place. You will only be delaying the inevitable, as the bridge needs to be properly re-cemented by a professional.
- Continuing to chew with a loose bridge could damage the bridge worse or fracture the abutment teeth.
- The bridge may need to be repaired or replaced if the cement seal is too far gone or abutment teeth are damaged.
Overall, while home remedies provide a short-term fix, it’s imperative to see a dentist immediately for a proper repair or to determine if the bridge simply needs replacement. But in a pinch, stabilizing at home is better than leaving the bridge loose.
What Your Dentist Will Do
During your appointment, your dentist will first examine the bridge to determine why it has come loose. They will check for:
- Damage to abutment teeth
- Decay under or around the bridge
- Damage to the bridge itself
- Swelling or infection
If the abutment teeth and surrounding gums are healthy, the dentist will clean under the bridge to remove any food, plaque and debris. They will then re-cement the bridge using a special dental adhesive. The bridge is fitted back into place and you will gently bite down to set the cement.
Further Options to Consider
If your loose bridge cannot be re-cemented due to extensive decay or other damage, your dentist will discuss other options, such as:
- Replacing the current bridge
- Placing implants to securely anchor the bridge
- Fitting you for a removable partial denture
- Discussing a new game plan to replace missing teeth
Proper at home oral hygiene and regular dental visits can help prevent loosening. But accidents happen and bridges do fail over time. See your dentist at the first sign of a loose bridge to avoid extensive repairs. With prompt attention, your dentist can typically re-cement the bridge quickly to restore proper function.
Be Diligent With At Home Oral Care
To help ensure your re-cemented bridge remains firmly in place, be sure to:
- Brush carefully around the bridge at least twice daily
- Floss daily, reaching under the bridge to remove food debris
- Rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria
- Have regular dental cleanings every 6 months
By closely following your dentist’s at-home care instructions, your dental bridge can provide many years of service and give you confidence in your smile again.