When Should a Dental Bridge Be Replaced?

Aug 24, 2023 | Bridges

When Should a Dental Bridge Be Replaced?

Dental bridges are an important part of many people’s smiles. They fill the gaps left by missing teeth, helping us chew, speak, and confidently smile.

But like everything else, they don’t last forever. Sometimes, they need replacement, such as when you feel pain and discomfort, discoloration of bridges, or gaps between adjacent teeth and the bridge.

This article will break down the signs that indicate your dental bridge is ready for a change. We’ll explore the average lifespan of a bridge, discuss the signs of failure, the risks of delay, and tips to extend the life of your dental bridge.

Key Takeaways

  • Dental bridges can wear out or have issues like pain, discoloration, or gaps like your real teeth. If your bridge feels a little wobbly or looks old, it’s probably time for a check-up.
  • Ignoring that loose or discolored bridge might not just ruin a smile. It can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and even mess with your confidence.
  • Practice proper hygiene and avoid bad habits to make your bridge last longer. Brush and floss daily, avoid chewing on hard stuff, and see your dentist regularly. Bridges can last 10-15 years with proper care.
  • Depending on their type, dental bridges should be replaced every 5-15 years. If something feels off, don’t hesitate to chat with your dentist! They’ll know if your bridge is having a bad day.

When should you change your bridge?

Dental bridges are an effective restorative dentistry procedure often used for replacing missing teeth. However, like all dental procedures, they may require repair or replacement over time for various reasons.


    • Pain and discomfort: If you feel pain while biting down or persistent discomfort in the area of your bridge, it could indicate issues with the abutment teeth supporting the bridge. You should never ignore this as it might lead to more costly dental work if left unattended.
    • Gaps between adjacent teeth and bridge: Over time, gaps can form between your natural teeth and dental bridges. This space allows food particles to accumulate, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. It is important to address this issue to avoid frequent dental cleanings.
    • Discoloration of bridges: The staining or discoloration of the original bridge material is another sign indicating age-related wear.
    • Loose dental bridge: A loose bridge is another signal pointing to possible failure. The loosening can occur because the surrounding natural teeth serving as supports (abutments) for these structures weaken over time, affecting their functionality. This can cause potential complications, such as damage to adjacent healthy teeth from undue pressure applied during chewing. Consult with your dentist immediately before the situation worsens further.
    • Tooth decay underneath crowns: The tooth under the crown supports the bridge. The presence of tooth decay means the whole bridge could get weak and not work properly.

Understanding the lifespan of dental bridges

The lifespan of dental bridges varies depending on the materials used, how well a dentist fits them, and your oral hygiene habits.

Typically, traditional fixed bridges can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years with good care. However, it’s important to remember that like natural teeth or any other restorative dentistry procedure such as dental implants, these too will experience wear over time due to normal use despite best efforts at maintaining them.

Causes of dental bridge failure

Dental bridges, as durable and effective restorative dentistry options, can still fail for various reasons.

1. Poor fit

If the bridge wasn’t fitted properly in the first place, it could lead to problems down the line. It might loosen or cause undue stress on supporting teeth.

On the other hand, dental bridges can become weak over time, causing them to loosen up. A loose dental bridge usually happens when the cement that binds the fixed bridges in place deteriorates or if there’s an issue with natural teeth serving as abutment teeth supporting your original bridge. The result is a wobbly structure causing discomfort during meals and potentially leading to more serious issues.

2. Tooth decay underneath the bridge

Tooth decay underneath dental implants or bridges can also cause concern. Even though covered by sturdy material, the natural teeth beneath them are not immune from decay. This is especially true if you do not practice good daily oral hygiene or do not regularly visit your dentist.

3. Gum disease around abutment teeth

Gum disease around the natural teeth also risks the longevity of the entire bridgework. Gum diseases or periodontitis could even cost additional procedures, including replacing missing healthy adjacent teeth after treating gums first.

4. Natural wear and tear

Just like anything we use daily, bridges can wear out over time. On average, they last about 10-15 years.

5. Cracked crowns and cracked false teeth

As part of a restoration strategy, crowns are vital in ensuring overall integrity and functionality over the years. However, cracks might occur accidentally by biting hard on something, eventually requiring a replacement procedure.

Crowns are the protective “caps” that cover the natural teeth on the side of the bridge. If a crown cracks, it won’t be able to provide a stable foundation for the bridge. This means the bridge might become loose or unstable.

On the other hand, a false tooth in a bridge is called a pontic. If it breaks, the function and appearance of the bridge are compromised. It might not be comfortable to chew and won’t look right.

So, just like a real bridge needs strong support and a sturdy platform, a dental bridge needs healthy crowns and a solid false tooth. If any part cracks or breaks, the whole bridge can fail.

Risks associated with not replacing a dental bridge

Not replacing an old or failing dental bridge can lead to numerous complications. One of the immediate risks is further damage to your surrounding natural teeth. When a bridge becomes loose, it exerts undue stress on the abutment teeth supporting it.

This added pressure may result in fractures or other structural damages, leading to more costly dental work beyond simple dental bridge repair. Furthermore, if decay has set under the original bridge and remains unaddressed, this could spread to neighboring healthy teeth.

Shifting teeth: The space left by the missing bridge can cause nearby teeth to move or shift. This can lead to a bad bite or misalignment of teeth.


    • Deterioration of oral health: A worn-out dental bridge also creates hiding spots for harmful bacteria, which leads to gum disease and tooth decay. If not replaced promptly, plaque buildup around and underneath the bridge can escalate into severe periodontal diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis. These conditions can impact oral health and have also been linked to systemic issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
    • Influence on overall well-being: The risks extend beyond just physical implications. There’s a psychological aspect, too. Missing teeth often impact one’s confidence levels negatively because they affect appearance. If, for example, you’re experiencing discomfort while eating because of ill-fitting fixed bridges, nutrition could suffer as well since certain foods become difficult to consume properly, leading to poor overall health over time.
    • Increased cost: If you wait too long, the problems caused by a missing bridge might become more complex, leading to more expensive treatments later on.

How often do dental bridges need to be replaced?

The lifespan of a dental bridge varies. Various factors influence its longevity, such as the type of bridge, materials used, personal oral hygiene habits, and frequency of professional cleanings.

A traditional fixed bridge, commonly chosen for replacing missing teeth, can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years with good daily oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. Some may even find their fixed bridges lasting longer than expected when properly cared for.

In contrast, removable bridges or partial dentures might require more frequent replacements due to wear and tear caused by constant removals and cleaning processes – usually around five to seven years on average.

Maintaining your dental bridge

Proper oral care at home is necessary to ensure your dental bridges last long. This includes:


    • Good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily, especially under the false tooth where food particles tend to get trapped, is essential to prevent gum disease.
    • Regular professional cleanings: Dental cleaning every six months helps keep healthy teeth, and restorative dentistry options like replacing missing teeth through procedures like implantation in top condition by removing plaque build-up that cannot be removed by routine home cleaning alone.
    • Avoid hard foods & objects: Avoid biting hard foods or objects such as ice cubes, nuts, pens, etc. This prevents damage that can shorten the lifespan of your dental bridge significantly.
    • Routine dental checkups: Routine appointments with your dentist are essential in maintaining both natural teeth surrounding the bridgework. During dental checkups, your dentist can detect any potential issues like loose components or damage early before leading to costly repairs and replacements.
FAQ text on wooden cube blocks

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a dental bridge gets old?

An aging dental bridge can loosen, causing discomfort while eating or leading to tooth decay and gum disease due to gaps between the bridge and adjacent teeth.

When should I change my bridge?

You should replace your dental bridge every 5-15 years, depending on its type and the quality of care. However, consult your dentist immediately if you notice signs of failure like pain or loosening earlier.

How can you tell if a dental bridge is bad?

A bad dental bridge may show visible gaps between it and the adjacent teeth, discoloration, or staining of the material used in making it. You might also experience pain while biting down.

What happens to a dental bridge after ten years?

Dental bridges typically last for about ten years with proper care. After this period, they may start showing signs of wear, such as cracks in crowns or false teeth, which would require replacement.

Keep your bridges strong and your smiles bright!

Dental bridges are vital in keeping our smiles bright and our mouths functional. However, like all good things, they have a lifespan and need proper care to keep them doing their job.

From the tell-tale signs of wear and tear, like pain, discoloration, or looseness, to the serious risks of ignoring a failing bridge, it’s clear that a bit of attention goes a long way. Regular check-ups, good oral hygiene, and replacing them when needed can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort and costly repairs.

If you’re noticing any signs of failure in your current dental bridge or simply want professional advice on how best to care for it, don’t hesitate. At Soundview Family Dental, we offer comprehensive services covering all aspects of dentistry. Contact us now, and let’s help keep that smile healthy!

Eric Kitts, DDS

Eric Kitts, DDS

Owner @ Soundview Family Dental

Born in Seattle and raised in Puyallup, Dr. Eric Kitts received his undergraduate degree from Washington State University and his DDS from the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Dr. Kitts began practicing dentistry in 2000, at his office in Richmond Beach. In 2011, Dr. Kitts built a brand-new, state-of-the-art dental facility located in the heart of downtown Edmonds.

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Are you unhappy with the appearance of your teeth and refuse to show the world your beautiful smile? Has discomfort at the dentist kept you from receiving dental work that will give you a reason to smile again?

At Soundview Family Dental in Edmonds, WA, we understand that not everyone likes the dentist. Our team of caring professionals works with you to ensure that you feel comfortable from the moment you walk through the door. Specializing in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, Dr. Kitts and his team work hard to preserve your natural teeth and give you back a smile you can be proud of.

Contact today to schedule an appointment and let our team deliver a beautiful, natural-looking smile you can be proud to show off.

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