The Downsides Of Dental Bridges: What You Need To Know

by Andrew Mueller, DMD, MD | Apr 30, 2024

As you explore the various solutions available for replacing damaged or missing teeth, you’ll definitely come across the option of dental bridges. A staple of modern dentistry, the dental bridge offers some of the same benefits as dental implants and has been one of the go-to restorations for people with one or more missing teeth for many decades.

Dental bridges are still widely used today, often with satisfactory results (at least, for a while). That being said, the leading team of doctors at Doctors Implants believes that, in the vast majority of cases, the benefits of dental implants far outweigh those of dental bridges. In this post, we’ve provided an overview of dental bridges, including their positive points, and outlined the ways in which we believe they fall short and often leave patients once again seeking a more permanent tooth replacement solution.

If you still have further questions about the comparative benefits of dental implants vs. bridges after reading the information below, contact our office directly to book your free doctor consultation and receive advice tailored to your specific situation!

What Are Dental Bridges?

In essence, traditional dental bridges are exactly what they sound like: A bridge of one or more prosthetic teeth (known as pontics) is supported by crowns placed over two healthy adjacent teeth (known as anchor teeth or abutment teeth) to fill in the gap left behind by a missing tooth or teeth (usually a maximum of three). Pontics can be made from a variety of different materials, including porcelain or gold, and may appear more or less natural depending on how well they are matched to surrounding teeth and how well the bridge is fitted in the mouth.

In addition to traditional dental bridges, there are also:

  • Cantilever Bridges – which are only supported by one anchor tooth
  • Maryland Bridges – which are cemented in place using a metal or porcelain framework instead of adjacent crowns
  • Implant-Supported Bridges – which are supported by crowns placed over implants instead of over natural teeth

Your dentist will recommend the best type of bridge for your particular situation based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Why Do People Get Dental Bridges?

Patients opt for dental bridges to replace damaged or missing teeth for a wide array of different reasons. Some of the qualities that can make dental bridges seem appealing may include:

  • Dental bridges are often more affordable than other types of tooth restorations.
  • They are relatively quick to install.
  • If enough healthy teeth remain in the mouth, they can be used to support dental bridges.
  • They look and feel more natural than traditional dentures and shouldn’t move around in the mouth.
  • Traditional dental bridges can be installed without the need for any surgical procedures (implant-supported bridges being the exception).

The Downsides of Dental Bridges

Many patients receive a dental bridge in hopes that it will provide a long-lasting solution for damaged or missing teeth, only to discover that this restoration can also have its shortcomings. At Doctors Implants, we’ve worked with numerous patients who have chosen bridges only to later opt for full-arch or full mouth dental implants.

What should you know about the potential downsides of dental bridges before investing? Let’s take a closer look:

Traditional Bridges Put Crowns Over Natural Teeth

The fact that a traditional bridge is supported by crowns placed over healthy teeth may not initially sound like a concern. However, in order to place a crown over a tooth, that tooth must be reshaped. In other words, a natural tooth may need to be shaved down, and healthy tooth enamel may be lost in the process. Removing healthy tooth enamel is never ideal.

Take the potential risk of altering healthy supporting teeth (and the possible future issues this could cause) into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of dental bridges.

Bridges Don’t Maintain Bone in Edentulous Areas

When a tooth is removed from the mouth, the bone below it is no longer stimulated by a tooth root and will begin to deteriorate over time. Because dental bridges sit above the gum line, jawbone loss, tooth movement, and even additional tooth loss, may be a serious concern.

In contrast, dental implants are placed directly into the jawbone, thus mimicking a natural tooth root and effectively preserving bone. Over time, jawbone stimulation and preservation can have a significant impact on your overall bonel structure and oral health.

Some Patients Develop New Sensitivities to Cold and Sweet

For some patients, new sensitivities may result from the installation of a dental bridge. Sweet sensitivities usually indicate a bridge that has been poorly fitted and is exposing a natural tooth underlying a crown to sugar. Crowns should securely cover and seal natural teeth, and this type of sensitivity can usually be resolved with a new crown fitting. However, such adjustments and repairs can be costly.

Cold sensitivity may also be associated with dental bridges, particularly in patients that have metal incorporated into their bridge ie gold bridges or porcelain fused to metal bridges.. It might resolve over time but, in some cases, may persist long-term.

Bridges Can Trap Food Along the Gum Line

Poorly fitting bridges can contribute to increased incidence of tooth decay, infection, and loss of structural integrity. How? If even a tiny portion of a natural tooth is exposed beneath a crown, food can become trapped along the gum line, and deterioration may occur. If caught early, this issue may be able to be resolved but can lead to irreparable damage if left unnoticed or unaddressed for an extended period of time.

Bridges Do Not Last as Long as Dental Implants

Dental bridges are not a permanent tooth replacement solution. They may eventually cause harm to anchor teeth and, at a maximum, typically last about 15 years.

Dental implants, on the other hand, are designed to last lifetime and offer the most realistic tooth replacement solution available. They look, feel, and function more like natural teeth than any other prosthetics and will give you the gift of a beautifully restored smile. Speak, laugh, and eat again with complete self-assurance when you invest in the 6 Hour Smile with Doctors Implants.

Ready to learn more about how full-arch or full mouth dental implants could change your life and help you move forward with the comfort and confidence you deserve? Call our office today to book your free doctor consultation and learn more about whether or not the 6 Hour Smile may be the right fit for your particular situation. We look forward to working with you!

About the Author

Andrew Mueller, DMD, MD

Dr. Andrew Mueller loves being an oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. After completing both dental and then medical school, he did a general surgery residency and an oral/maxillofacial surgery residency (both at Parkland hospital in Dallas, Texas). He has performed countless general anesthetics in the operating room, learning how to safely put patients to sleep and wake them back up.

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