Panic can strike when your dental bridge suddenly pops out and you’re left with a gap in your smile. Don’t worry – with the right response, a lost bridge can usually be re-cemented or replaced quickly to restore your smile again.
There are a number of possible causes for your bridge to become loose and possibly fall out, including the following:
- Oral trauma – If you’ve recently had a hit to the head, face, or mouth, your bridge may start to feel loose
- The teeth that support it (abutment) have been severely damaged
- Abutment tooth decay — poor oral hygiene may cause the area under the crown in abutment teeth to rot and cause the pontic to loosen
If the supporting teeth are still in good shape, a damaged dental bridge can sometimes be removed and re-cemented in place. However, the bridge or crown may need to be replaced if the supporting teeth have become severely deteriorated over time. This is because supporting teeth that are showing indications of deterioration may no longer fit precisely with the existing bridge’s contour.
Read on to learn why bridges fall out, what to do if it happens to you, and how to get your bridge fixed or replaced.
Why Do Dental Bridges Fall Out?
Dental bridgework is a long-lasting tooth replacement option. It uses the term “bridge” because the pontic (tooth replacement) is secured using dental cement to adjacent teeth, yet there is no physical connection between the jawbone and the false tooth.
But over time, the dental cement may deteriorate and cause the bridgework to become loose. Trauma may also cause the connection to loosen and the tooth to fall off. Indeed, just like any other treatment, there is a risk of bridge failure. In such cases, your dentist may need to remove, repair, or replace your dental bridge to restore the optimal function and aesthetic of your mouth.
There are a few potential reasons a fixed bridge can become completely dislodged from your mouth:
Improper Oral Hygiene
This is the leading cause of bridge failure. Bridge failure can occur when decay accumulates around and under the crown, causing harm and weakening the anchoring teeth.
Fragile Abutment Support
Changes to the supporting teeth might make a dental bridge less stable. Instability or a loss of support from these teeth might cause an unequal distribution of pressure on the bridge, leading to collapse. For instance, gum disease can lead to inflammation and recession around anchor teeth, causing them to loosen and destabilize the dental bridge.
Teeth clenching or grinding at night, biting your nails, eating hard foods like nuts, chewing on your pen and other hard substances, and similar behaviors can damage your bridge’s crowns or pontic.
Missing your dentist appointments
Maintaining the life of your bridge requires both proper dental hygiene at home and regular visits to your dentist. Regular dental checkups can help to detect any possible issues with your bridge before they become serious enough to cause it to collapse.
Loss of cement
The adhesive cement holding a bridge eventually wears down over 5-15 years allowing detachment. This is the most common reason.
A forceful trauma like falling or getting hit in the mouth can crack or dislodge cement.
Will My Bridge Be Ruined if it falls out?
Don’t panic if you lose a bridge. As long as you locate and properly store the dislodged bridge, your dentist can often re-cement it. Modern dental bridges are very durable.
Even if small chips or cracks are present, the bridge doesn’t necessarily need full replacement. Damaged spots can usually be repaired by a professional.
Immediate Steps if You Lose a Bridge
As soon as you realize your bridge has fallen out, follow these steps:
- Locate it immediately. Bridges easily get lost if they fall out when you’re away from home. Carefully find where it went before accidentally throwing it out or losing track of it.
- Do NOT try to re-cement it yourself with household glues, super glue, or double sided tape. This can cause extensive damage to the bridge or your natural teeth.
- Rinse your bridge off gently if it fell on the floor or in dirt. NEVER scrub or scrape it. Place in safe container like an empty pill bottle to transport; using cloth or tissue can scratch it.
- Rinse your mouth out gently as well if the fallen bridge leaves any cement behind on your teeth. Do NOT pick at it.
- Call your dentist’s office right away, even if after hours. They will provide advice for caring for the bridge and schedule a prompt repair appointment.
Caring For Your Detached Bridge at Home
Until your dental appointment, follow your dentist’s instructions on cleaning the dislodged bridge and caring for your abutment teeth where the bridge was anchored. They’ll likely recommend:
- Using an antiseptic rinse to prevent infection in empty tooth sockets left exposed.
- Brushing and flossing gently around exposed teeth.
- Eating only soft foods from the opposite side of your mouth.
- Taking over the counter pain meds if you have discomfort.
- Storing the bridge safely and securely. Do NOT wrap in a napkin or cloth that could scratch it.
Can My Bridge Be Saved?
An examination will determine if your original bridge can be re-cemented or needs replacement. With durable materials like porcelain fused to metal, cementing the original bridge again often succeeds.
If the anchor teeth or bridge show signs of damage like fractures or cracks, a new bridge may be needed. Your dentist will discuss all options after assessing the condition of your natural teeth, bridge, gums, and jawbone.
Getting Your Bridge Recemented
If suitable for recementing, your dentist will first thoroughly clean your natural teeth to remove any leftover old cement or bacteria. Your bridge will be cleaned as well. They test and adjust the fit if needed, then cement it firmly back into place using dental adhesive. After biting gently to set the fresh cement, the re-cemented bridge should feel secure and stable once again.
Replacing a Damaged Bridge
If your natural teeth or bridge have incurred too much damage, a full replacement is better for good long-term function. Your dentist takes impressions and sends measurements for crafting an entirely new custom-made bridge to be anchored onto neighboring healthy teeth. After numbing the area, your dentist cements on the sturdy new bridge for a restored smile that looks and feels natural.
Preventing a Bridge from Falling Out Again
To help avoid losing your bridge again, be vigilant with:
- Brushing carefully under and around your bridge at least twice a day
- Flossing thoroughly once a day to clear food debris
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria
- Seeing your dentist biannually for exams and cleanings
- Protecting your bridge during sports by using a mouthguard
With diligence and avoiding chewing hard foods like ice or biting nails, your re-cemented or new bridge can provide many years of service. Visit your dentist regularly and call them promptly if you feel your bridge becoming loose again.
Dental Bridges That Pop Out Can Often Be Saved
Losing a bridge can feel alarming but try not to panic. With proper response, preservation, and care handling, many bridges can either be re-cemented or repaired if found quickly. Work closely with your dentist to properly stabilize your bridge again. And relax knowing that even if replacement is needed, bridges can typically be redone promptly to restore your smile again.