QUESTION – Bridge Replacement
“I am unsure if you can help me or not, but I do need advice if possible. Perhaps you might be able to point me in the direction of that if you cannot answer this yourselves. This is the situation:
I have a large upper bridge. 7 teeth, four central and two to one side and one to the other. This is easily 30 years old. Recently three things happened:
1. My lovely dentist moved to London and the rest of her practice became private. As I am a pensioner, relying on State pension only, that is a luxury beyond me.
2. I finally found a new NHS dentist (seemingly rarer than hen’s teeth nowadays) and have to say that I am not entirely happy with her but do not wish to name her because that would savour of an official complaint.
3. The veneer on one of front incisors on the bridge, came off. My dentist glued it back on two occasions but it does not last. She also now (see below) says that the bridge is loose and needs to be replaced but does not want to do this herself and suggests I find a cosmetic dentist. This I cannot afford to do. She now says she can ‘try’ to take it out and give me a denture. I most certainly do not want that option. My questions are:
1. Is there a limit to the size of a bridge that one can have on the NHS?
2. Is there any way I could get this bridge replaced without having to pay privately – which I just cannot do.
As an aside, on my last visit this week, she started to excavate for two fillings, scraped out the small cavity on one tooth and had started to do the same for the other, which was adjacent to the bridge. I felt her pressing hard on the bridge and was about to raise my hand to stop her when she stopped herself and exclaimed that the bridge was loose. From my perspective it felt that she had dislodged it but as I cannot prove that and only have how it felt in my mouth as an indication, I would not wish to make that claim. She then said I should make an appointment for her to try and take the bridge off and then stick it back again! I asked if she felt sure she could do this i.e get it back again, and she replied that she was not sure. This is not a risk I feel like taking, especially as her replacement option is a denture. Also, I then came out of the surgery without the two cavities having been filled.
Is there any where I can go to get this sorted professionally on the NHS and without having to make a formal complaint against her? Many thanks for your help/advice.”
The most important thing about dental bridges are the supporting teeth. They have to be strong enough to functionally support the bridge. So are the teeth that are supporting your bridge in good condition? What did the x-ray show? Are the supporting teeth failing? If so this is no grounds for a complaint.
30 years is a very good age for your bridge to have lasted. You were probably told at the time that the bridge would last about 10-15 years, if not you should have been.
You need to talk to your dentist, she needs to explain more about your problem to you in a way you can understand. Discuss your fears with her. You cannot leave a loose bridge in your mouth because of the risk of infection. If the supporting teeth are in good condition she should provide you with a new bridge. If not then … she needs to tell you what your options are.
Best of luck