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A dental bridge is a permanent replacement for a tooth that is missing. It’s attached to the teeth on either side of the gap. This procedure can be expensive, up to $1,200, and patients worry that it won’t be worth it in the long term. With proper care, you can expect your dental bridge to last ten years–and maybe even a lifetime.

What Dental Bridges Do

Dental bridges serve an important purpose. They don’t just make your smile look as good as new; they help preserve the teeth you still have! When you’re missing a tooth, the teeth around it shift position over time. They can fall out of alignment with your teeth above. As a result, it makes it more likely for them to get cavities and can throw off your bite. An improperly aligned bite can be painful and even wear down your teeth prematurely. It’s clear that a dental bridge is critical to the health of your mouth in the long run.

The Average Lifespan is up to 10 Years

The average lifespan of a dental bridge is up to ten years. Some dental bridges break down sooner, but with careful hygiene, most can last a lot longer. In general, you can count on ten years if you take steps to preserve it. For this reason, proper oral hygiene makes the cost much more affordable. Even if you do have to get it repaired or replaced, it won’t be for a long time.

What Kills Dental Bridges

Two common issues permanently damage your dental bridges. The first issue has to do with the foods you eat. Certain foods are responsible for causing the dental bridge to break. Dental bridges handle average chewing well, but biting exceptionally hard foods like hard candies can damage them. The same is true of sticky foods and foods that place undue pressure on the bridge. If you have a dental bridge, you’ll want to avoid chewy toffees and caramels, as well as hard nuts and popcorn.

The other way that dental bridges die an early death is through the decay of the teeth around them. The healthy teeth that surround your bridges help anchor them in your mouth. These teeth have to be drilled down to fit the bridge attachments. As a result, they sometimes grow weaker and become more prone to decay. If you don’t take the time to brush and floss your teeth after every meal correctly, they could develop large cavities and even require root canals. These will interfere with your bridge and drastically shorten its lifespan.

Professional Care Makes a Difference

Even if you brush and floss every day, cleaning your dental bridge adequately enough to keep it in top shape, will still be difficult. The bridge itself makes it difficult for your brush to reach the gum line. Flossing under your bridge with a floss threader is a must, but even that can’t get out all of the trapped food particles out from under your bridge. Professional cleaning every six months is the only way to be sure you’ve gotten rid of that trapped food. If you don’t, it’s in a prime spot to rot your teeth–even if you’re brushing and flossing three or four times a day.

A dental bridge lasts an average of ten years, but it could last even longer with the right care. Be cautious with what you eat. Take your oral hygiene very seriously, and stick to your regularly scheduled cleanings. Your teeth will thank you.