Redoing expensive dental work is a “bridge” most of us would rather not cross before we have to.
Dental bridges are a type of restorative dentistry that fills a gap when a tooth has deteriorated or been removed. The false tooth, called a pontic, is held in place by dental crowns that are attached to the healthy teeth on both sides of it.
So, how long can a dental bridge last? In many ways, that is up to you. It depends on a series of factors including how and how well you care for it, what types of food you eat, and how careful you are to protect it.
According to a study by the Cleveland Clinic, a properly cared for dental bridge can last from 5- 15 years. Some bridges last a lifetime.
Here is what you can do to make your dental bridge last as long as possible:
Proper Cleaning and Care
Bridges may fail if the surrounding teeth decay or deteriorate. This is why it is so important to practice good oral hygiene. While dental bridges are a great option, they require excellent oral care habits to ensure they last as long as possible
People who have dental bridges should: .
- Brush twice a day: This is standard practice for people of all ages, but is especially important if you have a dental bridge. Use a soft bristled brush and a non-abrasive paste or gel to remove the plaque and food particles.
- Floss daily: In addition to normal, daily flossing, dental bridge patients must clean between their bridge and gum line. Normally, floss fits right between two teeth, but a bridge is a continuous span so food and bacteria can become trapped underneath. To properly clean between the pontic and gum line, use a dental pick, water pik, or floss threader. Talk with your dentist about how soon you should start flossing after getting a bridge.
- Regular dental visits: Regular dental cleanings and checkups are essential to oral health for everyone but take on a greater sense of urgency for those with restorative dental work like bridges. Regular cleanings not only help keep your teeth healthy but allow the dentist to take a look at the bridge and identify potential problems early on. This proactive approach can save costly work later.
Avoid Certain Foods
Being able to enjoy a variety of foods is one advantage of a dental bridge over dentures. That being said, there are foods that should be avoided.
Hard nuts, popcorn, or hard candies can damage the ceramic coatings on dental bridges. Chewing ice can damage a dental bridge as well.
You should also avoid stringy, sinewy vegetables and meat that require extensive chewing to get them down. When it comes to beneficial vegetables like broccoli that can be difficult to eat when raw, don’t completely avoid them! Try new methods of cooking (like roasting or steaming) to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.
Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools
Using your teeth for anything other than chewing your food is a bad idea. Do not use teeth to open bottles or tear open packages. Your teeth need to serve you for a lifetime so they should never be used as a tool or a way to carry “one more thing.” This concern is amplified when you have a dental bridge that is susceptible to damage.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact Your Dentist
Call your dentist if the bridge becomes uncomfortable or you start to have pain or sensitivity when chewing. Additionally, you should contact a dental professional if you notice redness, swelling or bleeding around the bridge.