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Bridge dental negligence claims

What is a dental bridge?

A bridge is used as a fixed solution to replace a missing tooth or teeth. They are made up of abutments (the teeth used as anchors for the missing tooth/teeth) and pontics (the replacement teeth that are attached to the abutments). A bridge is often used as an alternative to dentures when there are only a few missing teeth, or there are a sufficient number of healthy teeth to act as abutments to support the bridge.

Bridges are available in a number of materials and finishes, with porcelain and ceramic bridges looking the most like natural teeth.

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When might you require a bridge?

A bridge would be suggested if you have missing teeth that directly affect your smile or appearance. Additionally, if your teeth begin to strain at either side of the missing tooth, this might have an impact on your bite. A bridge would also be required if your speech or face shape is affected by the missing tooth.

How are bridges made?

There are several stages to the process of assessing and fitting a bridge.

  • Your dentist may take an x-ray prior to commencing treatment. They will assess various factors to determine the most appropriate design and material of your bridge
  • The tooth (or teeth) will need to be reduced in size (‘prepared’) so that the bridge can fit over it. This is usually done under local anaesthetic. Your dentist will take an impression of the preparation, which is sent to a dental laboratory
  • The laboratory will then make your bridge. Your dentist will have specified the material, design and colour of the restoration
  • The bridge is then fitted in your mouth – only once the dentist is confident that the fit, shape, shade and bite are correct. If these are not properly checked before fitting, several possible complications could occur
  • Adhesive bridges are also an option – this procedure requires limited drilling as they are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth

How long should a bridge last?

If you maintain a high level of care for your bridge, it could last around 10-15 years. Good dental hygiene, such as effective brushing and flossing, along with a good diet and eating habits, will all contribute to how long your dental bridge will last.

How much do bridges cost to have fitted?

Bridges are usually available on the NHS or privately. The cost of a bridge under the NHS falls into the highest band treatment charge, Band 3, due to the amount of work that goes into creating an effective bridge. If you choose the NHS treatment, you are unlikely to get a choice over the material used for the bridge, which will most likely to be metal if fitted at the back of the mouth. If you choose to have a bridge fitted through private dental treatment, the cost will depend on a huge number of factors, including:

  • The number of teeth requiring a bridge
  • The type of bridge (whether it is supported in the traditional way, or bonded to neighbouring teeth, or supported by implants)
  • The areas of the country
  • The expertise of the dentist carrying out the procedure
  • The materials you choose for the bridge

Bridges fitted privately can cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds, into the thousands, depending on the variables above.

As with any complex dental treatment, there are risks involved and the outcome can very much depend upon the skill and experience of your particular dentist. Some issues that may lead to premature loss of the crown/bridge include:

  • Poor oral hygiene – this can lead to decay and gum disease
  • Poorly designed and/or fitting bridge – this can make effective cleaning very difficult, possibly leading to decay and gum disease
  • The bridge may repeatedly become loose or come off. This is commonly caused by a poorly fitting restoration and/or an incorrect bite
  • Failure of the bridge due to incorrect assessment of dental health

Your dentist has a duty of care to ensure all procedures conform to strict industry standards. In addition, they should make sure that you do not suffer from any unnecessary discomfort or pain during and after the procedure. Furthermore, they should not cause any further damage to your teeth, jaw or gums.

The Dental Law Partnership deals with cases where problems have arisen from dental bridges due to:

  • The dentist not gaining informed consent
  • The dentist not advising of alternative treatments such as dentures
  • Damage to teeth from poor fitting bridges
  • Tooth decay caused by ill-fitting bridges
  • Poor appearance of the bridge
  • The dentist providing an inadequate assessment of the patient’s dental health before proceeding

Frequently Asked Questions

How much compensation could I get for a dental negligence claim in relation to a bridge?

As with most dental negligence claims, the amount of compensation that you may receive if your bridge has failed, or if you have developed further dental issues because of it, will depend on the circumstances of your specific case.

How long do bridge-related dental negligence claims take?

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to put an exact time-frame on a bridge-related dental negligence compensation claim, as every case is different. There is a standard legal process that must be adhered to and many claims are settled before they reach court, meaning that an outcome could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how your dentist responds to the claim and other aspects of the legal process, such as evidence gathering and gaining expert opinions. Click here for full details of the dental negligence claims process.

Is there a time limit on bringing a dental bridge compensation claim?

The time limit for bringing a dental negligence claim is three years from when the negligence occurred, or from when you became aware of the negligence. If the case involves a child patient, their three-year limit begins on their 18th birthday.

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