A dental bridge is precisely what its name implies it is: two crowns that sit atop healthy teeth on either side of a gap. Between the two crowns is a filler crown, which bridges the gap between the healthy teeth. Just like if you were to get a regular crown to cover a cavity or hide a chip or crack, your implant specialist will bond the crowns to your healthy teeth. The average lifespan of a dental crown is between five and 15 years, depending on how well you care for it. Dental bridges can be fixed in place or they can be removable. Both options come with their fair share of drawbacks.
Though dental bridges do offer a more stable option than dentures, they need to be replaced frequently. Depending on how young you are when you first need a dental bridge, you may discover that the amount you may save on not getting implants the first time around is quickly outweighed by the amount you spend on replacement crowns in the future.
Cost aside, dental bridges are not the best option for your teeth’s health. For starters, your specialist will need to shave down the support teeth to place the crown. Once we place the crowns, those support teeth will be under constant pressure as they are forced to carry the burden of one or more missing teeth. Such stress can cause otherwise healthy teeth to grow weaker over time and make them more susceptible to decay.
Furthermore, bridges do not hinder bone loss. The jawbone relies on teeth for stimulation, which supports muscle and bone maintenance. When you lose one or more teeth, your jawbone begins to cave in on itself via a process called bone resorption. When the bone resorbs, the curves in your face begin to shrink. This often results in a collapsed and pursed appearance which may make you look older than you actually are. Furthermore, bone resorption encourages further tooth loss. As the jawbone as a whole becomes weaker, it causes other teeth to move and to become loose. It is not uncommon for a single tooth loss to lead to subsequent tooth loss and, eventually, toothlessness.
Finally, unless you opt for a removable bridge (which is often uncomfortable and poses many of the same pitfalls as dentures), you may discover that you have a hard time cleaning beneath the filler tooth. Plaque buildup is a common concern for bridge patients as cleaning around and beneath the margins of the crown is extremely difficult.