Can a Dental Bridge be repaired?
Dental Bridge

Dental Bridge Repair

A dental bridge is the most popular way for replacing a missing tooth. Proper dental bridge care is a critical factor in delaying the time when you will need dental bridge repair or replacement. The average life span of a dental bridge is between 7 to 10 years. However this can be prolonged up to 15 years with careful dental bridge care. If the patient neglects proper care, the dental bridge may need to be repaired or replaced in even less than 5 years.

Common reasons for dental bridge repair

A dental bridge is a dental appliance that has an expected life of about 7 to 10 years. As with natural teeth, artificial teeth are also a subject to wear and tear. There are several conditions that, sooner or later, may make dental bridge repair necessary. Some of them are related to the dental bridge itself, but in other cases they may be related to the teeth supporting the bridge or the patient’s overall dental health condition. The most common reasons for dental bridge repair include:

Dental bridge failure

A dental bridge may fail either due to structural damage or functional failure (bad fit).

Structural damage

Most of the dental bridges are made of porcelain that can break, chip or crack under pressure making necessary a dental bridge repair. The artificial pontic tooth between the two crowns should not be expected to be able to withstand the same forces as a natural tooth. Excessive chewing force when biting on hard foods can cause the porcelain to break or fracture. Porcelain has roughly 2.5 times less compressive strength than enamel.

Other causes of damage to dental bridges include:

  • bad bite: malocclusion results in uneven pressure distribution between teeth. If their is an occlusion problem at the area of the dental bridge, it may fail. A badly designed dental bridge may also cause a similar problem on its own, even if there is no problem with the teeth of the opposing jaw.
  • bruxism: teeth grinding or clenching is another cause for dental bridge repair. Chips and fractures of the porcelain caps are common in patients with a bruxism habit.
  • trauma: participating in contact sports without mouthguard protection is a common cause of damaged dental appliances such as braces and dental bridges.
  • poor design: problems can arise with a bridge if too few teeth are used to replace multiple missing ones, increasing the forces each abutment tooth has to withstand.

Functional failure

Occasionally a dental bridge repair may be needed because it can not work properly or it may lead to other problems.

  • If the bridge has design problems it may not fit properly and the patient will feel uncomfortable or have speaking or chewing problems.
  • If a crown is not properly shaped where it meets the gums, it may cause irritation and sore gums.
  • Sometimes a dental bridge may become loose, if it is not properly cemented and secured on the abutment teeth.
  • Cosmetic issues include improper color of the bridge (too dark or too light) or shape (e.g. the edge of the crown does not cover the tooth completely).

Supporting teeth failure

The need for dental bridge repair is often a result not of a problem with the bridge itself, but of problems with its supporting structures.

Tooth decay

While the porcelain or other materials the dental bridges are made of are not affected by tooth decay, the underlying tooth structure remains susceptible to dental cavities. Since most of the exposed part of the tooth is covered by a crown, the most vulnerable area is the point where the crown of the bridge meets the natural tooth.

Lack of dental bridge care with proper oral hygiene can allow the accumulation of dental plaque and the development of dental cavities underneath the crown margins or edges (by the gum line), weakening the teeth that support the bridge. A badly fitted bridge can allow food particles and dental plaque to be trapped at the crown margins against the gums or natural teeth increasing the risk of tooth decay.

A decayed abutment tooth can break or fracture, and cause the bridge to become loose or come out. The dental bridge has to be removed to allow the dentist to clean the decayed part of the tooth or perform a root canal. Dental bridge repair to make it fit may be necessary before it is put back into place. It he abutment tooth is not viable and has to be extracted, a new restorative appliance will be needed.

Gum disease

Severe gum disease may also weaken a tooth or teeth that support the bridge. If the abutment teeth of a dental bridge are affected by gum disease, their condition will deteriorate much faster to the increased pressure on their periodontal tissues.

Receding gums may also cause aesthetic problems to dental bridges, exposing the dark and unattractive crown margins.

Dental Bridge Repair options

If problems occur, your dentist may try to repair the dental bridge instead of creating a new one.

Small faults, such as chipping or wearing of the porcelain usually can be repaired in the dental office using a resin-based composite. The dentist will abrade or etch the underlying material either porcelain or metal in order to achieve the best retention when the resin composite is bonded on the damaged area. However, the solution should be considered temporary. Additionally to the long term retention problems, the color of resin is not as stable as porcelain’s making the dental bridge repair not expected to last too long.

When an abutment tooth is decayed, the dentist can try to re-cement the old bridge in place after the tooth is filled, but if tooth structure is removed at the base of the crown, dental bridge repair is necessary. If the tooth is lost, the old bridge becomes unusable.

If a dental bridge is broken, the dentist will send it to the lab for repair but usually, even if a repair is possible, the cost of repair is too high and it is preferred to make a new bridge than repairing the old one.

Some problems may also arise when a dental bridge is removed for repair. The process requires a large amount of mechanical force to break the cement bonding to the tooth. The removal of a dental bridge increases the risk of tooth fracture or breakage of the bridge itself.

Most dental bridges remain comfortable and intact for many years. When a problem will eventually occur, your dentist will evaluate if your dental bridge can be repaired, saving you the cost of a new bridge.

The best way to lengthen the life of your dental bridge and delaying the need for dental bridge repair or replacement is to follow your dentist’s instructions and take proper dental bridge care.

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