How Long Does an Implant-Supported Bridge Last?
Implant-supported bridges can be an appealing option for people who want to replace two or more missing teeth in a row, but for some people, the idea of dental implant surgery or the higher cost of dental implants might be daunting. As you research your dental restoration options, it’s important to remember that some of the choices that may be less expensive or less invasive than dental implants are also unlikely to provide the same kinds of long-term benefits that implants provide. The lifespan of an implant-supported bridge depends largely on the patient, but with the proper care and maintenance, implant-supported bridges placed by reputable implant dentists can last many years, if not an entire lifetime.
Traditional dental bridges are supported by dental crowns that are affixed to the natural teeth on each side of the missing row of teeth, but implant-supported bridges are supported by small dental implant posts, usually made of titanium, that are embedded in the bone of the jaw. Because dental bridges are permanently attached in the mouth, they aren’t removed for cleaning and can be brushed and cleaned the same way the natural teeth are. Regular, diligent cleaning helps remove food debris that can be trapped around the apparatus, which encourages the growth of harmful bacteria when it is not removed. If bacteria remains in the mouth and builds up, it can lead to gum inflammation and disease, which causes larger dental problems to arise. Dental bridges should be brushed at least twice each day, along with the regular teeth, and patients should take particular care in cleaning between the teeth and around the bridge, especially at the gum line.
Another important part of keeping an implant-supported bridge stable and encouraging its longevity is regular visits to the dentist. In many cases, dentists are the first people to notice and diagnose gum disease, which can be reversed when intercepted early. When gum disease progresses, it can lead to implant failure and severely compromise the integrity of the dental implants. Dentists and dental hygienists can also clean areas of the oral cavity that might be difficult to reach with regular cleaning, helping remove hidden bacteria and preventing disease from developing.
Dental implants help stimulate the growth of healthy bone in the jaw, but it’s important to maintain the overall health as well. This means maintaining a healthy diet with sufficient nutrition to support bone health and strength, focusing on fresh foods with lots of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin D. Eating crunchy foods like vegetables can help exercise the muscles and bones in the jaw, though excessively hard or crunchy foods or chewed non-food objects could damage the bridge and oral tissues and aren’t recommended. Of course, balanced nutrition is important for bone health, but it’s also important for the health of the oral cavity; sugary and highly acidic foods can lead to a proliferation of bacteria in the mouth and can also eat away at the oral tissues and damage the mouth and the bridge, which can lead to implant failure. Just as regular, effective oral hygiene can help ensure the health of the natural teeth over time, it can also play a vital role in helping an implant-supported bridge last a lifetime.