Dental bridges can be a good option for replacing lost teeth. Using your natural teeth for support, dental bridges give you replacement teeth that are fixed in your mouth and can function just like natural teeth.
Unfortunately, dental bridges are not forever restorations. They can last for decades, but, usually, they need to be replaced. Often dental implants are the best choice for replacing a dental bridge, but this leaves you with a question: what about the teeth that used to support the dental bridge? Should they also be replaced with dental implants? Or can they just get dental crowns and remain in place?
Situations Where a Tooth Needs to Be Replaced
When we replace a dental bridge with dental implants, we will do a careful evaluation of your supporting teeth (also called “abutment teeth”).
Sometimes, we will find something that means they need to be replaced. Decay under the crown is a common problem. When the supporting teeth were prepared to receive dental crowns, they had some of their healthy tooth material removed. This means that it doesn’t take as much decay before they can no longer serve their role. In addition, cleaning under the bridge can sometimes be a challenge, which means that decay is more likely to start in these supporting teeth. Bone loss and receding gums under the bridge can also expose the roots of supporting teeth, which are more vulnerable to decay.
Another problem that we sometimes see in supporting teeth is damage related to the bridge itself. When a dental bridge is placed, we are asking your natural teeth to support more force than they used to. This can cause the tooth to crack. If a tooth crack extends into the root, the tooth needs to be replaced.
The tooth might also be losing attachment either due to gum disease or just excess force. If these teeth can’t support themselves
Situations Where We Might Consider Replacing a Tooth
Other times, we might discuss replacing the supporting teeth, but it’s more of a judgement call. A tooth can have some decay, but still be technically sound. Or it might have superficial cracking in the crown, but this doesn’t extend into the root. We will talk to you about the options and the odds of success for each, so you can help us decide what you want to do.
Other times, we might consider replacing the abutment teeth because the area where the dental bridge was isn’t suitable for dental implants. Unlike dental implants, a bridge doesn’t stimulate the jaw or the gums, which means that the bone can atrophy. If this goes on too long, the site might not have enough bone to support implants. That means we can either build the site up with a bone graft to place an implant there, or use the sturdy bone where the abutment teeth are to support a new implant bridge. We usually only recommend this if the abutment teeth are in a questionable state.
Attractive, Functional Smiles
When it’s time to replace your dental bridge, we’ll do a careful consideration of all the options for your new restorations. We’ll talk to you about these options and find the one that’s best for you.