11 Common Problems Caused by Dental Bridges

Believe it or not, dental bridges are ancient technology. A 2022 article published in International Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care cited archeological finds from Ancient Egypt showing dental work that we would think of as bridges. Wire constructed of precious metals such as silver and gold had been wound about existing teeth to stabilize cosmetic material ostensibly inserted to fill unsightly gaps. These dental bridge lifespans were truly for the whole life of the patient!  

Still, despite their long pedigree, dental bridge problems are a reality for many who have undergone this cosmetic procedure. In this article, we will discuss some common dental-bridge problems, warning signs you should take to heart, and a course of action you should take if your bridge comes loose. 

Diagram of a dental bridge

Common problems linked to dental bridges  

A bridge exists to fill gaps in your smile by securing a faux tooth (also known as a pontic) by means of dental crowns attached to healthy teeth. It’s easy to see how the cosmetic procedure got its name since the prosthetic and its stabilizing structures “bridge” the gap in one’s mouth. Bridges fall into three main categories, namely traditional (linked crowns support a porcelain and metal prosthesis), Maryland (metal flaps secure a plastic prosthesis to healthy teeth), and cantilever (the prosthesis gets attached to an adjacent tooth).  

Dentists can’t simply slot a bridge into patients’ mouths on a first visit. Instead, they must take impressions of existing teeth and craft a bespoke bridge for each individual. That crafting process is where many common dental bridge problems arise. In no particular order, here are some common problems linked to dental bridges: 

  • Ill-Fitted Bridge. When a dentist takes a poor impression or the bridge isn’t manufactured according to correct standards, the result is a prosthetic that doesn’t fit well in one’s mouth. When this is one of your dental bridge problems pain and tissue damage may result. 
  • Tooth Decay. If the cap part of a traditional bridge doesn’t fit tightly enough, bacteria can slip in and begin to attack the tooth. Tooth decay follows, and patients begin to experience symptoms such as discomfort and discoloration. Proper hygiene (e.g., brushing, flossing) can help prevent decay. 
  • Sensitivity. Experiencing some sensitivity is normal after having a bridge installed. But when it begins to occur months or even years after its installation, it’s a warning sign. Damage or decay may have occurred. 
  • Damaged Bridge. Most of us don’t think much about enjoying a crisp apple, a crunchy carrot, or a hard candy. You should, though, if you have a bridge. No matter current dental advances, caps and pontics won’t be as strong as natural teeth, and damaging a bridge is a real possibility if you chew on hard stuff. 
  • Cracked Tooth. Sometimes teeth have underlying issues that aren’t immediately obvious, such as cracks that might turn into full-on fractures when strain gets placed on them. Unfortunately, dental bridge installation or dental bridge repair might inadvertently cause damage to such teeth. 
  • Bad Taste or Smell. If you have a bridge and experience unremitting halitosis or a consistently bad taste in your mouth, consider visiting your dentist for a checkup. Bacteria may have found its way under one or both of the crowns in your bridge. 

Signs you have a bad dental bridge   

In our previous section, we discussed some typical dental bridge problems. Now it’s time to talk about what you should look out for if you suspect that you might have a bad dental bridge. While the following symptoms won’t definitively rule out other dental problems, you ought to consider seeking medical aid if you’re experiencing them: 

  • You find yourself in pain. This symptom generally occurs sooner rather than later, at least when dealing with a bad bridge fitting. When not seated correctly or when poorly designed for your mouth, a bridge will cause significant discomfort, ongoing irritation, and even tissue damage (e.g., sores). 
  • Your bite is off. A bridge ought to closely mimic your old teeth, and when it doesn’t, your mouth won’t feel right when you clench your teeth together. This can also lead to ear issues, headache, and muscle pain from the neck up. 
  • The bridge has a loose fit. Similarly, a poorly fitting bridge may shift around in your mouth. Because bridges are permanent, they shouldn’t move at all! Such bridges may require an adjustment or may need a complete replacement.  
  • It’s stained or discolored. Bridges shouldn’t be built out of plastic, but that’s exactly what some cheaper options utilize. This will inevitably lead to unsightly staining. 
  • You’re speaking with a lisp. Your teeth determine the way you speak almost as much as your tongue. If you examine the International Phonetic Association’s official international phonetic alphabet, you’ll notice that consonants get sounded by placing the tongue various places inside the mouth, two of which are dental (with the teeth) and labiodental (with the lower lip and upper teeth). A bridge-induced shift can change the way that you speak for the negative. 
  • It looks unnatural. Function isn’t the only reason why people seek out dental work. They want to look a certain way. If your smile looks unnatural, then there’s likely something wrong with your bridge. 

Reasons why a dental bridge may become loose   

Incompetence is far from the only reason why you may experience discomfort or unsightly oral blemishes. Though bridges are permanent, they will fail over time. (The rule of thumb is that a correctly fabricated and installed bridge should last five to seven years.) Here are some reasons why a dental bridge may become loose: 

  • Experiencing a hard impact to the face, such as a fall   
  • Biting or chewing on hard foods such as hard candies   
  • Fracturing one or both abutment teeth   
  • Fracturing the pontic   
  • Breaking the metal/porcelain framework  
  • Cement failure   
  • Time and wear and tear   
  • The bridge was ill-fitting from the start   

What to do if your dental bridge comes loose?   

Do dental bridges break easily? Not particularly, but if yours does break or come loose, you have a dental emergency on your hands. Contact your dental professional immediately to schedule an appointment for a repair or a replacement. You don’t have to let bridge troubles surprise you, though. Here are some preventative steps you can take to minimize common bridge problems: 

  • Avoid hard foods known to damage teeth    
  • Practice proper oral hygiene every day   
  • Schedule regular checkups with your dentist   
  • Having a regular professional dental cleaning is a must   

Reach out to us here at Westend Dental for all of your cosmetic dentistry, dental restoration, and orthodontic needs. We have decades of dental experience and know exactly how to help you with your particular case.