How to Take Care of your Dental Bridge?
Dental Bridge

Dental Bridge Care

If you have a missing tooth you can replace it with either a dental bridge or a dental implant. A dental bridge is the most common solution basically due to its lower cost. Unfortunately dental bridges do not last long, and have to be replaced in a few years. Proper dental bridge care is key in reducing the long term cost of replacing it every few years, by increasing its life span.

The importance of proper dental bridge care

The average life of a fixed dental bridge is usually less than 10 years. Several problems may shorten even more its life span to no more than 5 years (or less, if you do not take good care of your dental bridge). However if you follow carefully your dentist’s instructions after the placement of a dental bridge, it could last up to 15 years. If you are in your mid 30s, the expected time before replacing a dental bridge can make a huge difference on the number of times you have to replace it throughout your life, and on the long term cost of the tooth replacement.

Proper dental bridge care can significantly reduce, at least in half, the number of bridge replacements. With the cost varying from $1,500 to $4,500 for each new 3-unit bridge, you can save a big amount of money by just taking good care of your dental bridge.

Besides the cost, it can also save you from the inconvenience of several additional dental visits for replacing the bridge, and also for adjusting to the feel of the new one.

What are the basics of proper dental bridge care?

A dental bridge care plan must focus in eliminating or minimizing all problems that could affect the health of your teeth and gums or the integrity of the bridge itself.

If the abutment teeth, the ones on which the fixed bridge is anchored, get decayed, the dental bridge will have to be removed before the teeth can be treated. Even if the damaged tooth can be repaired, in most cases the old bridge will not fit and a new one will be needed. If one of the abutment teeth becomes loose or it is decayed beyond repair and has to be extracted, the dental bridge will become useless.

Although most of the exposed part of the abutment tooth is covered by an artificial dental crown which is not susceptible to tooth decay, the crowned tooth is considered to be equally vulnerable to tooth decay, due to the much increased risk on the area of the gum margin. At this area along the gumline, food particles and dental plaque can easily be trapped between the lower edge of the bridge and the gums, causing tooth decay on the point where the natural tooth meets the crown.

Except tooth decay, gum disease can also cause problems to dental bridges. If your gums recede, the bridge will not fit to the gums leaving an unappealing gap. In severe cases of periodontitis, the abutment teeth may become loose and unable to support the bridge any more.

Structural damage is another cause of bridge replacements. The bridge can break under pressure, or its material can wear down. Porcelain bridges can easily be chipped.

How Do I Care for My Fixed Dental Bridges?

Maintaining your fixed dental bridge for more years is depended in two main factors:

a) keeping healthy the teeth that support the bridge (abutment teeth)

b) protecting the bridge from damage

Protect teeth that support the bridge

The best thing you can do, if you care about your bridge, is to protect the health of your teeth and gums, and especially those who support it. The following recommendations can help you maintain good oral health and increase the longevity of your dental bridge:

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly after every meal to prevent plaque build up around the bridge. If dental plaque is not cleaned daily, it will turn into dental calculus which will make it harder to clean the abutment teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and bridge failure. Ask your dentist to show you how to brush properly, and especially how to clean better the area of the gum margin (where the crown meets the gums). A soft manual or electric toothbrush is recommended.
  • Flossing at least once to twice a day is extremely important if you have one or more fixed dental bridges. Brushing teeth can not provide adequate cleaning underneath the dental bridge. Food debris and bacteria accumulated under the artificial (pontic) teeth can put you in high risk of decay and gum disease. Your dentist will recommend the use of a ‘floss threader’ that can help you pass the dental floss between the pontic teeth and the gums, and will make a demonstration on how to use it.
  • Using a proxy brush (interdental brush) or Water Pik™ can also help clean any food particles or bacteria left behind after brushing an flossing.
  • Rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash after flossing to remove from the mouth any loosened remains of food before they stick again on teeth and gums.
  • Watch your diet and reduce the consumption of sugar, which can help the growth of dental plaque bacteria and the production of acids that destroy the enamel and irritate the gums. Avoid sticky foods that may get stuck under the bridge and be very difficult to clean.
  • Visits your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning and dental examination.

The combination of careful brushing and flossing with regular preventive dental visits are essential parts of proper dental bridge care.

Protect the dental bridge

Not only teeth, but also the bridge itself needs care and protection. Avoid any action that could cause damage to the structure of the dental bridge.

  • Avoid chewing hard foods (such as candy, caramel, nuts), or at least try to chew not directly on the bridge.
  • Do not bite on hard objects. Many patients who have the habit of biting a pencil can cause damage to the bridge work.
  • Bruxism problems can also damage a bridge. Clenching teeth can cause breakage, while grinding teeth can cause wear of the restoration material, fractures or chips.
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.

Preventive maintenance

Several dental bridge problems can be prevented or repaired if they are detected early enough.

Regular dental examinations must be scheduled so that the dentist can identify problems with the proper fit of the bridge due to the natural changes that occur in the mouth and jaw with age. A minor adjustment or bridge repair may prevent further problems to the restoration or the teeth that support it.

If your dental bridge needs repair, it is recommended that you visit your dentist as soon as possible to fix the problem. Delaying repairs may require replacing the entire bridge work, or create other serious dental heath problems requiring additional treatment.

How to take care of a Removable Dental Bridge

The type of care required is a little different in case of a removable dental bridge.

If you have a removable bridge, then you need to take it out and brush the area under the removable bridge. The bridge itself needs to be cleaned daily with a soft toothbrush to remove food particles and plaque and to prevent stains.

Removable bridges, especially porcelain ones, can break, chip or fracture if dropped or struck. Be gentle on how you handle the bridge when it is out of your mouth.

Inserting and removing it, puts a strain on the teeth that the removable bridge holds on to. You must be careful performing these actions exactly as your dentist has showed to you, to avoid loosening of the supporting teeth. You should also visit regularly your dentist to check if any adjustment is required.

Even if you take excellent care of your bridge and teeth, it is unavoidable that it will have to be replaced in some years. But proper dental bridge care can help your teeth stay healthy, and your dental bridge remain steady and secure for as longer as possible.

  next page -> How to repair a Dental Bridge?
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