Since as far back as 200AD, dental bridges have been used to fill the void left by a missing tooth (or group of teeth). Fast forward to the 18th century, and even the famous patriot, Paul Revere was familiar with the dental bridge. In fact, during his life – Mr. Revere even placed advertisements in a local Boston newspaper, informing his neighbors of his very own dental practice.
Fortunately for the patients, the vetting process for dentists has become quite a bit more selective. But in his experience as a dentist, even Revere was familiar enough with the dental bridge to be able to identify a friend’s body by the bridge that he himself constructed.
This brief bit of history goes to show that dental bridges have been time tested, and they’ve continued to get better and better as the years have passed. Today, a modern dental bridge is often indistinguishable from a natural tooth, and their stability and strength allow patients of all ages to use their restored teeth almost as if they were their natural teeth.
But there are some pitfalls when it comes to dental bridgework.
the Most Common Disadvantages of Having a Dental Bridge
They are “Destructive”
Dental bridgework relies on the teeth on either side of a missing tooth as support. Unfortunately, if those teeth are completely natural and healthy – preparing them for the bridge can be damaging. This is because, in order to make enough room for the bridge, the teeth need to be filed down.
There is one situation where this is actually positive. If the teeth in question have already been damaged or have had multiple fillings, this step will actually play an important role by protecting those teeth in the future.
They Can Get Expensive
Not only can dental crowns add up (and bridgework typically requires two crowns), but dental bridges tend to last between 5 and 8 years.
For this reason, if the supporting teeth are healthy and only one tooth needs to be replaced – dentists often recommend dental implants. While a dental implant can cost more at the outset, a dental implant will last as long as a natural tooth, doesn’t damage the teeth on either side, and makes oral care easier — all factors that can help save money in the long run.
They Can Damage Your Nerves
When your dentist prepares your teeth for the crowns used to support your future dental bridge, there’s a small chance (roughly 1-15%) that the nerve in the tooth could die, which ultimately could require future root canal treatment. If you’re at a particular risk for this, your dentist may recommend performing a root canal before bridgework is completed.
The Appointment Can Be Long
Despite being one procedure that can replace a missing tooth in just 2 visits (compared to an implant, which will require repeat visits to the dentist’s office over the course of about a year before the tooth is fully complete.) The procedure for installing a bridge takes quite some time. Your first appointment will usually take between 1 and 3 hours. While the second appointment, when your bridge is installed permanently, typically takes about one hour.
They are Harder to Clean (When Compared to Implants)
With dental bridges, a bit of extra care is needed when it comes to cleaning. Since the underside of your dental bridge isn’t a part of your jaw, you will need to clean under your bridgework using a special tool known as a bridge threader. Because of this added difficulty, patients sometimes opt for the easier-to-clean dental implant, which can be treated just like a natural tooth.