Dental bridges are one of the top methods used to replace one or more missing teeth. They are designed to attach to the remaining teeth and have one or more fake teeth that fill in the gap left by missing teeth. After a bridge is placed, it can restore both the look and function of the smile. However, when it comes to determining if a dental bridge is the best restoration option for missing teeth, one thing that needs to be considered is how long dental bridges last.
Unfortunately, there is no specific answer to this question. According to a number of sources, the general answer is anywhere from 5-15 years with a possibility of them lasting longer. The reason why there is no specific answer for how long dental bridges last is because there are a number of factors that affect the lifespan of a dental bridge. These include a patient’s oral care routine, their diet, the type of dental bridge, and the possibility of parafunctional behaviors.
Factor #1: Oral Care Routine
Since dental bridges are mounted on teeth surrounding the gap left by a missing tooth for support, these teeth must remain in good condition for the bridge to last. Unfortunately, these teeth must be filed down to place the bridge, which can make it easier for bacteria to enter the tooth. If the surrounding teeth become decayed, then the dental bridge may fail.
Therefore, good oral hygiene practices are essential to prevent bridge failure. To keep your bridge in good shape, you will need to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your local dental office every six months for a dental cleaning. All these steps decrease the bacterial populations in your mouth to decrease the risk of developing tooth decay.
Factor #2: Diet
What you eat is another important factor that affects how long your dental bridge will last. Ideally, you will want to eat a tooth-friendly diet that consists of more fruits, vegetables, and fiber. It is also encouraged to limit sugary and starchy foods because these foods feed the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay. Additionally, excessively hard or chewy food should be avoided because they place additional stress on your bridge and can cause it to wear down faster. They can also damage the surrounding teeth. Such foods include: popcorn, nuts, hard or chewy candies, and caramel.
Factor #3: Type of Bridge
There are four different types of dental bridges, and certain types may last longer than others. For example, an implant-supported bridge will most likely last longer than a traditional bridge, while a traditional bridge would most likely last longer than a cantilever bridge. While this is not an exact science, the type of bridge can affect how long the bridge lasts.
Factor #4: Parafunctional Behaviors
Parafunctional behaviors is a term used to describe any behavior that uses the teeth for something other than chewing or biting food. One common example of a parafunctional behavior is bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching). Other parafunctional behaviors can include things like nail biting, chewing on ice or pens, and opening packages with your teeth. All these behaviors place additional strain on the teeth, jaw, and dental bridge, and can result in damage or prematurely worn teeth and restorations.
As you can see, the question of how long dental bridges last is not an easy one to answer. While the general answer estimates 5-15 years, your oral care routine, diet, type of bridge, and presence or absence of parafunctional behaviors will ultimately determine the specific lifespan. Therefore, before having a dental bridge placed, you will want to speak with your local dentist to determine if a dental bridge is the best tooth replacement method for you.
Dr. Gerard J. Lemongello Jr. graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry and has been in private practice since 1987. His focus is on cosmetic and comprehensive restorative rehabilitative dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry, and is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.