How long does a dental bridge last? This question arises with the need to replace a missing tooth or teeth. First, let me clarify what is a dental bridge? It is a fixed dental prosthesis that replaces a missing tooth or teeth. It is made up of 2 or more crowns, holding a false tooth or teeth in between (the false tooth is called pontic). These crowns are supported by neighboring teeth on both sides of the gap created by missing tooth or teeth (The supporting tooth is called an abutment tooth).
How Long Does a Dental Bridge Last?
The common response to this question is “it depends” because there are many factors affect the lifespan of the dental bridge such as oral hygiene, the condition of supporting teeth, chewing force, and the manufacturing material. With appropriate oral hygiene and regular check-ups, dental bridges last between 7 and 10 years on average. At best, they last a lifetime.
Factors Determining How Long Does a Dental Bridge Last
There are several factors determine how long does a dental bridge last, include:
How long does a dental bridge last? It depends mainly on your oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene may lead to gum disease and the development of dental caries under the bridge. Dental caries and gum disease affect abutment teeth and when abutment teeth fail the entire bridge fails. In this case, the dentist removes the dental bridge and treats abutment teeth with tooth filling or root canal treatment. Then, he/she performs a professional cleaning to prevent the progress of gum disease. Also, the dentist prepares abutment teeth to receive a new bridge. If abutment teeth and gums left untreated, this may lead to a tooth abscess, periodontitis (advanced stage of gum disease), and eventually tooth loss.
The Condition of Abutment Teeth
The current condition of abutment teeth is one of the important factors that determine how long does a dental bridge last. First, all damage to abutment teeth must be eliminated, including treating gum disease and removing dental caries. In addition, they can be strengthened by fillings and core build-up. Dental bridges are only recommended if the adjacent teeth are healthy and stable.
Parafunctional habits are the habitual use of the mouth in activities unrelated to eating, drinking, or speaking such as teeth grinding, fingernail biting, and chewing ice, pen, or pencils. These habits may cause chipping and breakage of ceramic bridges. Ceramics are brittle and breaks more easily under strong pressure in comparison to gold and metal alloys. Gold bridges offer a long-lasting solution for patients with teeth grinding. Also, patients with teeth grinding must wear a night guard to protect the opposing teeth and prevent the damage to the bridge.
The Type of The Dental Bridge
- Traditional: This is the most common type. It is supported by dental crowns on both sides of the gap. This type can withstand the biting force and offer stability and durability.
- Cantilever: It is supported by a dental crown at only one side of the gap. This type puts a strong pressure on the abutment tooth and may cause the damage of this tooth or loosen the crown.
- Maryland: It is supported by wings that are bonded to neighboring teeth instead of dental crowns. This type has a tendency to debond especially in areas with high biting force.
Dental Bridge Material
Dental bridges are made of gold, metal alloys, ceramics or a combination of these materials. Gold and metal alloys offer stability and long durability. They can last 10 years on average. However, their uses are limited to the posterior, non-visible area because they are unaesthetic.
All-ceramic and porcelain-fused-to-metal bridges provide a natural color match. However, ceramics are not resistant to breakage as gold and metal alloys, therefore, they are made thicker. All-ceramic and porcelain-fused-to-metal bridges can last 7 years on average.
Long Dental Bridge
If you have a large span of missing teeth, a dental bridge is not recommended. The biting force causes the flex of long dental bridges. This can cause the breakage of the bridge. Also, the biting force puts a strong pressure on abutment teeth and may lead to the damage of these teeth. Dentists recommend dental implants for the replacement of large span of missing teeth.
Dentist and Dental Lab
Simply, ask your dentist “how long does a dental bridge last?”. He/She will give you an answer based on your oral hygiene, the current condition of abutment teeth, bridge material, type of bridge, and the number of missing teeth.
The making of the dental bridge requires a high level of skill and experience. Also, there must be a good communication between the dentist and dental lab. A poorly fitting bridge will keep coming loose and will cause complications such as:
- The leakage of bacteria to the underlying tooth.
- The development of dental caries.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Gum disease and gum recession.
- Tooth Abscess.
- Tooth mobility and eventually tooth loss.
Therefore, if you have a loose bridge, visit your dentist to replace it if you have a poorly fitting bridge or to secure it if the cement that holds the bridge in place is deteriorated.