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Article: Saving that old, loose dental bridge - and saving money! DR. JERRY GORDON
The most common problem with an aging bridge occurs when cavities get underneath the crown margins or edges, weakening the teeth that anchor it.

Many people who have a fixed dental bridge can encounter problems with it after years of use. A bridge is a series of crowns or caps that are joined together to rebuild existing teeth and also to permanently replace missing teeth.

The most common problem with an aging bridge occurs when cavities get underneath the crown margins or edges (by the gum-line), weakening the teeth that anchor it. This may occur after many years of service (more than 10), but can also happen if the bridge was poorly made, or the person has very poor dental hygiene. As the teeth supporting the bridge decay, the bridge becomes loose, and either begins to rock or move during eating, or comes out completely!

A dentist can try to re-cement the bridge, but that will usually not solve the problem. Ideally, the bridge should be remade, with the decayed teeth repaired and reshaped for a new bridge. The only problem is that the cost is often substantial.

In many cases, if the bridge itself is in good condition, the decayed supporting teeth can be rebuilt and refitted into the old bridge. The process will sometimes involve performing root canal on badly decayed teeth and having titanium posts placed into the tooth roots to extend into the old bridge.

In other cases, filling materials can be used to strengthen the teeth and then be molded into it. Saving an old bridge takes knowledge, ingenuity and skill, but can save a person thousands of dollars when used in the right situation.

It is important to point out that saving an old bridge is not always possible. In some cases, the supporting teeth are so broken down they cannot be used. In other situations, the bridge itself is damaged, rendering it unusable.

Whatever the circumstances, you should always ask your dentist if your old, loose bridge could still be saved with treatment of the supporting teeth. If they can, you may have just saved yourself the cost of a new bridge.

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Dr. Gordon is the dental columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times. He has published more than 300 articles since 1998. Dr. Gordon was recently asked to provide commentary about mid-level providers for the influential dental journal Dental Abstracts.

Dr. Gordon responds to an article in Dental Abstracts challenging his views.

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