If you’re dealing with a missing tooth, you probably know what a struggle it can be. Whether you’re self-consciously using a hand to cover your smile or struggling to chew or swallow, you’re far from alone. Research suggests that around 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, with factors like decay, gum disease, and trauma among the most common causes.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: dental bridges! These versatile prosthetics can restore your smile fast, and they’ll even mimic the look of your natural teeth while they do it.

Given the cost, however, you may find yourself wondering, “How long does a dental bridge last? Are they worth the investment?”

Here at Albee Family Dental, we find that bridges are durable enough to be a great choice for most patients, though there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer about how long they last. Here’s what to know if you’re considering a dental bridge to improve your smile.

How Long Does a Dental Bridge Last?

The answer to this can vary from smile to smile. However, you can generally expect dental bridges to last anywhere from 5-15 years. In some cases, bridges can even last a lifetime.

This range is wide for several reasons. Factors like the type of bridge, the materials used, and the keeping and care of the prosthetic play a huge role in how long it lasts.

Ceramic bridges, for example, may last anywhere from 5-10 years. Like porcelain crowns, porcelain bridges are more expensive and often more durable, lasting 10-15 years or more.

Metal bridges are far stronger and may last decades, in some cases. However, many patients prefer ceramic or porcelain, which can match the natural color of their teeth, over the noticeable look of a metal bridge.

In addition, it’s tricky to say how long implant-supported bridges “last.” While the ceramic or porcelain pontics and retainer crowns (the visible structures that mimic the look of your teeth) may last 10-15 years, the titanium implants will remain in the jaw. You’ll need to swap the pontics and crowns for new ones every now and then, but the titanium post may last a lifetime with proper care.

Increasing the Lifespan of a Dental Bridge

What can you do to extend the lifespan of your tooth replacement? Fortunately, many of the things you already do to maintain your oral health will also help you preserve your bridge.

Keep Your Teeth Clean

You already know you should brush and floss every day, but these habits are even more important once you have a bridge. Cleaning your teeth prevents harmful bacteria from creeping under your bridge to attack your gums and the surrounding natural teeth.

If you struggle to floss your bridge, you’re not alone! Some people need a floss threader or water flosser to get a good cleaning. Ask your dentist for advice.

If you have a removable bridge, make sure you’re cleaning it over a towel or a sink with a drain catcher. This can keep you from losing or breaking it.

Be Careful What You Eat

Right after you’ve gotten your bridge, your dentist will advise you to eat softer, less irritating foods. While you don’t have to stick with this regimen once your mouth has healed, it’s still a good idea to steer clear of hard foods, chewy or tough foods, and sticky foods that can be hard to remove.

Watch Your Oral Habits

On that note, be careful about what you’re putting into your mouth!

If you’re in the habit of chewing pens, ice, or your fingernails, stop. Don’t use your teeth as tools to rip open packages. As a general rule of thumb, don’t do something with your bridge that could damage one of your natural teeth.

If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night, do what you can to prevent this habit. Talk to your dentist about getting a custom mouth guard, try to minimize your stress, and troubleshoot your sleeping patterns. Constant grinding can wear down the surface of your bridge, forcing you to get an early replacement.

Avoid smoking as well. Not only can smoking delay the healing process right after you’ve gotten your bridge, but it can damage your teeth, bones, and gum tissue. This can impact the total lifespan of your bridge.

Ask Your Dentist About Your Bridge

Your dentist can also help you maintain your bridge in the long run.

This starts with your aftercare once the restorative procedure for your bridge is complete. During your recovery period, your dentist may give you specific advice on how to heal from your treatment. They may also suggest helpful cleaning methods, including special floss or high-fluoride rinses, to protect your smile.

Be sure to follow all of their instructions! If they recommend follow-up appointments, don’t skip them. It’s possible for dental bridges to fail after their placement, and your dentist will need to check for any early warning signs.

Your bridge may feel new or uncomfortable in your mouth for a few days as you adjust to the new prosthetic. However, if your bite feels off or you’re still experiencing discomfort after a few days, mention it to your dentist. Sometimes, a simple adjustment is all you need, and these adjustments can even improve your ability to maintain your bridge.

In the long term, checkups are more important than ever once you’ve gotten a bridge. Your dentist can help lengthen the lifespan of your bridge by cleaning hard-to-reach areas and checking for potential problems before they snowball into larger ones.

Let Us Preserve Your Smile

If you have one or more missing teeth, a bridge can help you restore your smile for years to come. Now that you’ve stopped wondering “How long does a dental bridge last?” it’s time to visit an experienced dentist to get the confident smile you’ve been searching for!

At Albee Family Dental, we’ll be happy to go over your dental repair options and find a treatment that works for you! With over 20 years of experience with restorative and cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Albee will use state-of-the-art techniques to renew your smile. To learn more, call 585.225.8010 or contact us online today!