Teeth have a unique place in your life due to its essential function in eating and aesthetics or personality. But when your natural teeth fall due to aging, injury or caries, you need to visit a dentist.

Your dentist might advise you a dental bridge which is a fixed artificial tooth. But the longevity of a dental bridge is a common question that strikes your mind whenever you visit your dentist for the replacement of teeth.

Do you know that the durability of the bridge will not only build your confidence towards your dentist but also saves your time and money?

The lifespan of dental bridge mainly depends upon the quality of bridge material, oral hygiene habits and design of the bridge.

Can you guess for how many years your bridge will support the functions well in the oral cavity? You may find it hard to believe that your dental bridge can function well for a decade or so.

But this can be achieved only by maintaining proper oral hygiene and making routine visits to the dental office.

In this article, you will get to know about the lifespan of dental bridge, factors affecting its life, symptoms of its failure, repair and tips to maintain it.

How much life can I expect from my bridge?

In general, a dental bridge can remain functional from 5 to 15 years depending upon many factors.

Although, sound oral hygiene and regular dental examination will strengthen the case and can increase the age of a dental bridge. Dental bridges mainly made up of the following constituents – (1)

  • Porcelain
  • Porcelain bonded to a metal
  • All-metal
  • Zirconia

Types of dental bridge

You should be aware of types available as it is linked with the durability of the product. On the basis of above-constituting material and form of support that they provide, there are four types of bridges.

Traditional bridge

A traditional bridge is the most popular type of bridge that can be used in a condition when there are natural teeth present adjacent to both sides of the missing tooth.

This bridge is formed by creating a crown or cap on adjacent teeth and joining it with a pontic in between. This bridge can be considered a long-time investment.

Porcelain fused to metal or ceramics is usually used to make these bridges.

The estimated age of the traditional dental bridge is 10 years which can be increased to 20 years if you take utmost care of your dental bridge.

Cantilever bridge

This kind of bridge is fabricated when there is only one tooth present on either side adjacent to missing teeth.

Pontic is attached to only one tooth on which the crown is made. Cantilever bridge usually not recommended because it may create too much force, resulting in damage to the abutment teeth. It makes bridge unstable to function.

The lifespan of the cantilever bridge is 10 years or more depending on how you take care of your bridge.

Maryland bridge

It is quite similar to a traditional bridge. The only difference in the case of Maryland bridge is that the framework of metal or porcelain is made on the back side of abutment teeth and not the crown.  

These bridges are often used for anterior teeth and sometimes posterior applications to replace a missing tooth when a more advanced solution, such as a dental implant, is not indicated.

Materials used are porcelain fused to metal and zirconia.

Studies done by researchers of University of Maryland dental school finds that age of the Maryland bridge can be increased up to 19 years. (2)

Implant-supported bridge

As the name indicates, the implant is placed as a support for the bridge unlike the use of crown or framework.

The implant is a screw-like thing that is made up of biocompatible titanium metal. A surgical procedure is involved in the placement of this bridge.

Also, it is considered to be the strongest and one of the most long-lasting dental bridge for missing teeth.

The lifespan of an implant-supported bridge can be 11- 15 years or maybe more than 15 years if you strictly follow instructions to care of your bridge.

What factors affect my bridge life?

The functional stability of dental bridge depends on the following factors –

Oral hygiene habits

You should note that good oral hygiene is the most critical factor involved with every dental treatment which includes bridges.

Poor oral hygiene will lessen the chance of long-lasting function of the prosthesis. Smoking should be avoided entirely as it will cause you gum diseases which can eventually lead to a bone loss.

The bone loss results in mobility of tooth on which the dental bridge is attached.

Bridge Material

In an early part of this article, we have mentioned the material. So, it is the material which primarily decides the durability of the dental bridge.

If you talk about the strength and lifespan, then metal-ceramic bridge comes superior to other types. On the other side, all-ceramic or porcelain material bridge is weak and can easily break.

Bridge Design

The framework of the bridge decides the retention and eventually relates to the life of the restoration.

Proper planning should be done while choosing support from teeth. This enables adequate prognosis and lifespan of a dental bridge.

In the case of the traditional bridge, the support is from both the sides and bridge structure is well framed to stand any pressure. While A cantilever bridge comes inferior to all due to its attachment to only one supporting teeth.

Signals of bridge failure

Discomfort

In the case of bridge failure, you may experience discomfort while performing normal functions like chewing of food and it might also hinder the movement of the tongue.

Sensitivity

It is the characteristic sign of loosening of the bridge. A loosen bridge wears down the tooth enamel which results in sensitivity to hot and cold.

Infection and decay of teeth

A loosen bridge allows bacteria to grow and deposit plaque. Periodontal diseases and dental caries may develop in such cases. The development of these conditions will result in the worsening of oral health.

Bleeding

When you are experiencing bridge mobility, it is most likely that it will cause bleeding of gums and surrounding tissues due to physical trauma.

Traumatic ulcers may also develop because of the injury. This will cause trouble to normal functions of mouth.

Can I get my dental bridge repaired?

Chance of repairing depends upon the reason for bridge failure. Moreover, if the problem is not with an abutment tooth, then the dentist can recover the damage.

Suppose the ceramic coating on the bridge gets fractured then it may be possible to repair. But if the original bridge breaks then replacement is the only solution.

Tips to increase the longevity of a dental bridge

Some measures that you can apply to increase the longevity of a dental bridge are –

Brushing

You should do brushing twice a day and mouthwash after every meal. While brushing, you have to make sure that you are cleaning the areas around the bridge because it is the most common site for food debris accumulation.

Super Floss

You might be familiar with the term dental floss that is used to clean region between the two teeth.

But it should not be confused with super floss which is specially made to clear the surface under the bridges or crowns to remove the lodged food particles.

Biting hard objects

Although, dental bridges have excellent strength and do not break easily. But still, the habit of nibbling on hard objects like ice, nails, pencils, etc. can result in fracture of the dental bridge and may also damage the remaining natural teeth.

A traumatic condition might occur if the bridge breaks since it may lead to pain and stiffness.

Dental visits

Prevention and earlier diagnosis are always better and advised. You should do dentist visits at least once in six months keep a check on restoration failure.

Diet

Consuming a nutritious diet is also essential. This means you should include more fruits, vegetables, and fibers in your diet as they will strengthen the tooth support and maintain good oral hygiene.

Oranges, kiwis, pineapple, leafy vegetables, carrots, yogurt, milk, etc. are some of the healthy options that you can include in your diet.

Over to you

Usually, a dental bridge lasts for almost a decade. But the life of a dental bridge depends upon the variety of factors and also you can expand the age of a bridge by maintaining proper oral hygiene.

It is your duty to make routine dental visits to detect any problem related to the dental bridge.

Also, it goes without saying that you should follow the instructions given by the dentist as they can increase the longevity of your dental bridge.

A dental bridge lasts for almost a decade. But the life of a dental bridge depends upon factors like bridge material, aftercare, daily habit.