Dental bridges can last up to a decade, and sometimes longer, with good care. They serve as replacements for lost teeth and help prevent dental problems when the surrounding teeth change position to fill the gap. Therefore, they play an important role in dental healthcare. But because patients' oral care routines and diets have a large effect on these devices' lifespans, the question "How long do dental bridges last?" is difficult to answer precisely.
Dental Bridge Lifespans
Dental authorities offer different opinions on dental bridge lifespans. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dental bridges usually last about five to seven years, and certain types can last over 10 years. The University of Rochester Medical Center says that with good oral hygiene, most dental bridges can last even longer than 10 years, with the potential to last a lifetime.
Why Dental Bridges Fail
Fitting a dental bridge often involves filing down the teeth next to the missing tooth's gap. While this prepares them for crowns that support the replacement false tooth, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry explains that it also increases the risk of decay and gum disease in and around the filed teeth, which makes root canals more likely. And when a supporting tooth fails, the entire dental bridge can fail.
Dental bridges can also fracture, as addressed by a 2008 ADA report. The materials used to make dental bridges are brittle, and bridges can break when overloaded on hard or chewy foods.
Preventing Dental Bridge Failure
Eating a tooth-friendly diet and avoiding foods that put stress on dental bridges prolongs their lifespan. The Cleveland Clinic advises patients to eat more fruit, vegetables and fiber than meat for good oral and general health. Dental bridge patients should also eat fewer sugary and starchy foods, which cause dental decay. Additionally, avoid eating nuts, caramel, popcorn, hard or chew candy and other sticky or hard snacks. These foods can overload the pressure on dental bridges when chewing.
Caring for Dental Bridges
Caring for dental bridges involves good general oral care, specialized care and regular professional cleaning. Combined, these habits increase bridge lifespans. Regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, such as Colgate® Cavity Protection, and flossing take care of the bridge's outside, but food can become trapped underneath where it's difficult to remove. These particles can expose the adjacent teeth to decay. Dentists recommend a floss threader to carry floss under the bridge, removing the trapped food. The University of Rochester Medical Center also advises dental bridge cleaning by an oral health care professional every six months.
Many patients ask, "How long do dental bridges last?" The answer is that the lifespan depends mostly on them and their cleaning habits. Dental bridges are worth the expense and time involved in fitting them, just as long as patients look after them. Take good care of your bridge and you may not need to think about it again for 10 years or longer.