A dental bridge is a custom-made appliance that “bridges” the gap created by a missing tooth. The gap is filled by a false tooth called a pontic, while the two teeth around it serve as anchors, called abutments, which are covered by crowns. The bridge is fixed in the mouth by cementing the crowns to the abutments. 

Although a bridge is classified as a fixed or permanent restoration, and modern dental restorations are increasingly lasting for longer periods, they’re not indestructible or impervious to becoming dislodged. When a dental bridge does become loose, ultimately the only fix is to come in and see the dentist. 

Read on to learn when it might be time to schedule an appointment for a loose bridge and more important info for living with this type of restoration. 


Symptoms of a Loose Dental Bridge

Here are some common loose dental bridge symptoms:

  • Movement: Shifting of the bridge while eating or drinking or otherwise touched is a sure sign the bridge is loose. 
  • Bite problems: A bad bite is not unique to dental bridges but it can cause the same symptoms: tooth pain, headaches, sore jaws, and more. And it may be a sign that the bridge has become loosened and uneven in the mouth. 
  • Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is normal in the first few days after having a bridge placed, but if it continues for weeks or begins spontaneously at some point down the road, it may be a sign the bridge is no longer set correctly and constantly rubbing on tooth or gum. 
  • Bad taste or smell: Odor or bad taste indicates food decaying under the bridge area, which could mean it’s loose enough to allow food in there. 
  • Discomfort: There may also be signs that your bridge has not been fit properly to begin with. These include irritated gums, boils, or infections, or even something as simple as a ‘weird’ or strange feeling. Even if you’re not experiencing pain, make an appointment with your dentist so they can examine the fit.


What to Do if Your Dental Bridge Comes Loose?

A loose bridge is generally not considered an emergency situation, unless you’re in great pain. But you should make a dental appointment as soon as possible, because the situation will only worsen. Some dentists will advise you not to touch the bridge at all, while some may allow you to remove and recement the bridge yourself with an over-the-counter dental adhesive as a temporary solution until your appointment.  


Reasons Why a Dental Bridge May Become Loose

Knowing how a dental bridge can come loose might just help you prevent it from happening. Here are a few ways a bridge can become dislodged:

  • Experiencing a hard impact to the face, such as in a fall;
  • Biting or chewing on hard foods such as raw vegetables or hard candies;
  • Fracturing one or both abutment teeth;
  • Fracturing the pontic;
  • Breaking the metal or porcelain framework underneath;
  • Cement failure;
  • Time and wear and tear; or
  • The bridge was ill-fitting from the start. 


Consequences of a Loose Bridge

There are two main types of potential adverse consequences from a loose bridge: damage to your mouth and damage to the bridge. Obviously, the former is a much more serious problem; a bridge can be repaired or replaced, but if you’re wearing a bridge, the last thing you need or want is more tooth trouble. 

A loose bridge creates an empty space into which bacteria can enter and create problems from cavities to periodontitis. 

But the worst possible consequences could result from attempting to recement the bridge with a household or other non-dental glue, which could severely damage the underlying teeth.  


How Does a Dentist Fix a Loose Bridge?

The dentist’s repair options depend heavily on why the bridge is loose. In the best-case scenario, the bridge can be removed by breaking the cement on the abutment tooth, the issue addressed, and the same bridge recemented (if it hasn’t been chipped or otherwise damaged). 

However, if the cement does not break easily, the tooth structure of the abutment teeth could break inside the crown, requiring at least a new bridge and possibly even implants to replace the abutment teeth. To avoid this problem, the bridge can be cut off, but of course that necessitates replacing it with a new one.  

If the loose bridge has been caused by abutment tooth decay, the abutment tooth will need to be treated, if possible, by cleaning or root canal. But if it has decayed too far, it will have to be replaced by an implant placed surgically in the jawbone that can support the new bridge. 

Who Are We? Bunker Hill Dentistry - Full Service Dentist in Houston, TX
Dr. Le and Ann Le

Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le

Specialists – Led by Dr. Le, a dentist experienced in both cosmetic and general procedures, including dental bridges.

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 Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”  is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry.

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State of the art – We utilize the most advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

 Conveniently location – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map.

How to Care for a Dental Bridge Properly

Treat a bridge like you would normal teeth; that means brushing twice per day and flossing at least once per day. Traditional string floss isn’t really an option, so you’ll need a special tool that can reach between the pontic and the gums. You can do this with: