I had a 4 unit bridge spanning from tooth #6 (canine tooth) to #2 (second molar) for many years. I believe #5 had been taken out for braces when I was a kid. I am now in my 50s. After many years, tooth #6 (the canine) needed to be pulled. This was my support tooth for the bridge along with #2.
The dentist then placed a 6-unit bridge spanning from my front teeth (#8 and #7) all the way to #2. The bridge broke within a year and was replaced with a stronger bridge still spanning the same distance which was 3 missing teeth. The unit came loose at tooth #2. This is my current situation.
Second opinions tell me I need to remove this bridge immediately as it will ruin my front teeth (No. 8 &7) because of too much stress. I am considering this with crowns on 8 & 7 and an implant at 6. I have a ground down no.2 that was part of the bridge that will need a new crown. that still leaves me needing to replace no. 3&4 where there isn’t enough bone. They say i need a sinus lift and bone graft followed by 2 implants and crowns. the cost is about 30K which I can’t afford nor do I want a sinus lift and graft. What are my best options for replacing from 6 to 2 (minus 5). I was thinking of a bridge from the implant at 6 to the crown at 2 but was told it is not a good idea because one is flexible (2) and one is rigid(6) and it ultimately would fail. I don’t really want a removable unit or one with metal across the top of my mouth. Any thoughts?
- Ashley from New Hampshire
You really need to stay away from the fixed bridgework, if you have that many teeth missing in a row. You will gradually ruin all of your other teeth, and you’ll be left with nothing.
There are only three ways to support false teeth in the mouth:
1. With a dental bridge, which means you attach it to adjacent teeth. But there are limitations to how many teeth you can support this way. If there are more than two teeth in a row missing, it makes supporting them with a bridge highly risky. You discovered this when you had three teeth in a row missing and the bridge broke within a year. That was a bridge that never should have been placed. The longer span bridge flexes during function and puts an incredible amount of stress on the teeth it attaches to. And I agree with your second opinions that you need to remove this bridge immediately, as it appears that you are trying to support three missing teeth with two front teeth. This will fail and take those two front teeth with it, and it won’t take very long for this to happen.
2. You can support the teeth with a removable appliance that rests on your gums.
3. You can anchor them in the bone with dental implants.
Since the bridge is not an option in your case, you’re down to two remaining choices, and you have to make your decision based on their advantages and disadvantages. Wishing there were another option is counter-productive. And if you dither for long enough, you’ll have to have five or six teeth replaced instead of just three.
Yes, the removable partial denture will need to partly cover your palate. But this coverage can be minimized if you act before you lose those other two teeth. And yes, there are some discomforts and inconveniences associated with a removable partial denture. Weigh that in your decision process against the cost and trouble of getting dental implants, and come to a decision as quickly as you can. There are new plastic materials that are being used in removable partial dentures that are light, tough, and esthetic. If you haven’t yet been offered this option, you might get yet another opinion. Ask if the dentist does Valplast partials, or look up some information about them.
And the dental implants are nice – no question about that. But they are expensive. You could probably find a dentist to do them for less money by skipping the sinus lift and bone grafting, but then the implants will be at risk of early failure which will cost you even more money in the long run.
If you still have trouble making up your mind, I would invest a couple hundred dollars in a temporary dental flipper replacing those three missing teeth. That bridge is acting like a long crowbar prying at those two front teeth, and you simply cannot go on the way you are. Get the flipper and then take your time deciding between the implants and the removable partial denture.
This blog sponsored by California implant dentist Dr. Robert Thein.