The removable dental bridge is a dental prosthesis that mainly serves the purpose of replacing the missing tooth/teeth within the oral cavity.
Once the dentist has customized a dental bridge, the patient can easily remove and replace the dental bridge by himself.
After the dentist performs the needful refitting and adjustment, it might take up to a month or so for the appliance to feel like a part of your natural oral cavity.
There may be minor speech and eating hinderances that will eventually ease out with regular use.
Let’s see more about a removable dental bridge in detail in the later part of this article.
What is a removable dental bridge?
As dentists we live by this famous quote, “ the preservation of that which remains is of utmost importance and not the meticulous replacement of that which has been lost.”
The focus of any dental treatment primarily revolves around preserving the finer structures within the oral cavity.
A removable dental bridge is an appliance that is fabricated to replace the missing or lost teeth within the mouth. As in the case of any new addition to an existing domain, the environment takes time to adapt to it.
Similarly, the oral tissues too might take a while to be fully accustomed to the feel and the fit of the new prosthesis.
When do we use a removable dental bridge?
The missing or lost teeth can be replaced in more ways than one. The diverse treatment options range from complete oral dentures to fixed bridges and implants to removable bridges.
Following are a few conditions that indicate the use of removable dental bridges –
Young or very old patients
A fixed prosthesis is not recommended in young patients because of anatomical tooth conditions. In such cases, a removable prosthesis is a better fit.
Similarly, in very old patients, an expensively fixed prosthesis is contraindicated.
Long spaces of missing teeth
It is preferable to opt for removable bridges if several natural teeth are missing. This is because a fixed bridge for a long edentulous space would apply too much pressure on the abutment or supporting teeth.
Removable bridges are an obvious choice in areas of cosmetic concern since it has a more natural appearance as compared to fixed bridges.
Patients with emotional or mental problems
A removable prosthesis is more suited for patients with mental disorder since the appointment duration is shorter and less tedious.
What to expect after delivery of removable dental bridge?
Once the prosthesis is customized according to the patient’s oral measurements, your dentist will guide you through the insertion and instructions for use.
It is also important to instruct the patient about maintenance of the prosthesis. Dental appointments are usually made early in the day and week so that recall is more convenient.
Avoid any social engagements immediately post insertion.
The dentist will recall the patients within 24 hours after initial delivery of the prosthesis. Any discrepancies in fit or stability can be then eliminated.
Frequent complaints of patients immediately post-insertion include
- Unstable prosthesis
- Pain, soreness or discomfort in particular areas
- Eating distress
- Speech disturbances
- Laceration/Ulceration (1)
Do not panic in case you face any such problem with your dental prosthesis as they will be tended to by your dentist in the recall appointment.
Keep in mind that it will take a while for your oral tissues to adapt to the dental bridge naturally.
Instructions for use
A good removable dental bridge can last you for ten years if cared for and used correctly.
Once the dental prosthesis is adequately adjusted and delivered to you, your dentist will hand out a list of instructions for appropriate use. These include –
- Remove the appliance from the mouth before brushing.
- Use the recommended cleaning or soaking agent along with a soft bristled brush for proper cleaning of the appliance. Avoid using a regular toothpaste as it may be too abrasive for the denture base
- Avoid dropping the appliance while cleaning to prevent damage. You can hold it over a cloth to ensure the same.
- Wash the denture with cool water. Hot water may cause warpage.
- Avoid any hard foods or sticky foods such as toffees and chewing gums.
- Make sure you are not chewing unilaterally. Chew from both the sides, so the forces of mastication are distributed evenly across all teeth.
- Avoid use of any strong bleaching or cleaning agents as this may adversely affect the parts of the denture.
- Do not apply biting pressure on the denture during insertion. This can damage the appliance as well as the oral tissues. Always remove and replace the bridge gently.
- Most dentists recommend removal of the appliance overnight as it gives the oral tissues a much need rest to recuperate from the loads exerted by the prosthesis.
- Soak the appliance in water overnight only after consulting your dentist.
Each prosthesis is made from a different denture base, and water may or may not cause shrinkage. (2)
Complaints of wear and tear
At times, even with the best of care and maintenance, your denture may undergo unfavorable changes.
Visit your dentist as soon as you see signs of wear and tear. These include –
- Loss of retention and stability of denture base
- Loss of occlusion between the denture and natural teeth.
- Fracture in the denture case
- Staining or discoloration of denture base
Most of these are common complaints that are faced by long term denture wearers. If brought forward to the dentist’s attention in time, they can be easily fixed and do not require for the denture to be replaced.
Methods to correct old and worn out dentures
These include mainly two techniques as Relining and Rebasing.
This is usually done in cases where denture has lost its stability and retention. It includes the addition of a new denture base to the existing one to make up for the loss of tissue contact.
The denture is then readapted and adjusted along the oral tissues. It is a quick procedure and does not require too many lengthy chairside appointments.
It is similar to relining and is done in cases of fractured or stained denture bases. In this case, a bulk of the denture material is removed, and new material is added and refitted to the oral structures.
In some cases, when the denture is poorly maintained or has been damaged beyond repair, the existing framework of the appliance may be used to reconstruct a new prosthesis.
Take away message
A removable dental bridge is an appliance that can be easily removed and replaced by the patient and serves to treat the problem of missing or lost teeth.
It is more cost effective than other treatment options such as fixed crowns or implants.
It also requires lesser chairside time for fabrication and hence is indicated in very old patients or patients with mental or physical abnormalities.
The appliance fits along the natural contours of the mouth and thus may take a while for the patient to get acclimated to it. Common complaints among first time denture users include- pain, soreness, ulceration and speech disturbances.
But with the right dental guidance and some patience, these can be easily overcome.
Ensure you follow all the instructions for the care and maintenance of the appliance. This will help to increase the life expectancy of the denture.
At the earliest signs of wear and tear of the denture, make an appointment with your dentist.
The denture can be easily fixed and readjusted in the dental clinic by your dentist or dental auxiliary.