Dental bridges can last a long time–decades–but they don’t last forever. If you have an old dental bridge that is failing, you might wonder whether you can simply replace it with a new bridge. Sometimes you can, but it might be better to replace it with a dental implant or even an implant-supported bridge.
Just the Bridge Is Failing
Sometimes, you find that the bridge itself is the only part that’s failing. Perhaps the bridge has broken apart, separating the replacement tooth (called the pontic) from one of the supporting crowns. Or maybe a dental crown has broken.
If it’s just the bridge that’s failing, we will perform a comprehensive exam to make sure the teeth are healthy. If they are, then, yes, we can design a replacement bridge and put it on the same teeth.
Teeth Are Weakened but Still Healthy
Our exam might reveal that although the teeth supporting your bridge are healthy, they are weakened. Perhaps they experienced a little bit of decay, and might need root canal therapy. Perhaps they were stressed by the weight of the bridge. No matter the cause, they are no longer up to the task of supporting the dental bridge.
In this case, we might recommend putting crowns on the supporting teeth and filling the gap with a dental implant instead of the bridge.
There can be a little bit of a challenge to this, however. When you lose a tooth, your body begins to remove the bone from your jawbone where there’s no tooth to stimulate it. The pontic from a dental bridge doesn’t stimulate the bone, so the area under a bridge might be short on bone to support a dental implant. We might have to perform a bone graft. Sometimes that would even require a second procedure, followed by a healing period, before we can place the implant.
Teeth Are Decayed, Damaged, or Broken
Sometimes, the teeth that used to support the dental bridge have been badly damaged during the time they supported the bridge. They might have been damaged by the same cause that led to the loss of your first tooth, for example. The stress of bearing the bridge could also cause structural damage to teeth. And sometimes decay can sneak up under a supporting crown.
In this case, we might recommend removing the supporting teeth and placing two dental implants. These implants can support a new dental bridge. The new dental bridge can then last for decades, even a lifetime. Dental implants can be lifetime restorations.
Can One Tooth Support a Bridge?
What if one of your teeth can’t support the bridge any longer, but the other is healthy? Can you support a dental bridge with just one tooth?
Not normally. In the past, we often used this solution, called a cantilever bridge. It’s not a good solution–it puts too much stress on the supporting tooth and makes it much more likely to fail. Before we had dental implants, we would use this solution because we didn’t have a better option. Now that we have a better option, this is not recommended.
Nor do we recommend supporting a bridge with one tooth and one implant. Implants are very similar to natural teeth, but they’re not identical. Over the repeated stresses of biting and chewing, that small difference can lead to failure of the implant, bridge, and/or tooth.
Let Us Design Your New Smile
If you are facing the loss of a dental bridge, you might be worried about the impact this will have on your smile. Let us put those fears to rest with a brand-new restoration that is beautiful, healthy, and durable. You can compare your options here to learn more.
To start the process of replacing your dental bridge in Tulsa, please call (918) 528-3330 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Meghan Hodges at élan.