My dentist placed a bridge in 2019 on my front left tooth and the two behind it. The lateral incisor needed a root canal but was so weak that the dentist put a post in the tooth to help support the bridge. Three days ago, the tooth broke off at the gumline, so now only one tooth is holding the bridge. This bridge is somewhat new, so I want to end my frustration and find another dentist to fix the tooth and get the bridge back on. What kind of dentist can do this repair? What should I look for? – Tristan from IN
Thank you for your question.
We are sorry to hear about your frustrating experience.
Dr. Sirin would need to examine your teeth and bridge for a recommendation. But based on your description, a dentist will have at least three challenges. Look for a dentist experienced in cosmetic and implant dentistry and training in occlusion and bite.
Challenges When a Tooth Post Breaks at the Gumline
When a tooth post breaks at the gumline, your dentist will face several challenges:
- Trying to grip the post to remove it
- Cutting the crown off the bridge and possibly removing the bridge
- Determining if a new post will last or break
Trying to Grip a Tooth Post Broken at the Gumline
A dentist who must grip a tooth post broken at the gumline has limited techniques to remove it.
- Ultrasonic scaler – Holding the scaler to the post may loosen the cement around it and allow your dentist to twist the post out.
- Drilling – Removing tooth structure around the post to access the post and twist and remove it. But a lateral incisor is a small tooth, so drilling around the tooth will weaken it and increase the risk that a new post would break, too.
Accessing a Tooth Post within a Bridge
When a tooth is part of a dental bridge, a dentist who removes a post from a tooth must cut the crown off the bridge to access the post. But that damages the bridge, so your dentist would need to grind off and replace the bridge.
Determining If a New Post Is the Solution
If your lateral incisor tooth is already weak, removing the post would further weaken the tooth. The lateral stress on the tooth from heavy biting forces would break it off at the gumline again.
Another Tooth Post or a Dental Implant?
We recommend a dentist with training in occlusion and bite and cosmetic and implant dentistry because the tooth will probably break. If not, the post would likely fail again. After an examination and x-ray, your new dentist may recommend removing the bridge and replacing the missing tooth and the weak lateral incisor with dental implants.
But call two dentists to schedule an appointment for a second opinion. Choose a provider with experience in cosmetic and implant dentistry. And ask to see before-and-after pictures of implants on front teeth.
Dr. Steven Sirin, an Elgin, Illinois cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.