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Dentistry/time limit for bridge?


I have two questions.I am going through financial hardship and my dentist gave me a quote for getting several bridges done. The amount with my insurance is still not affordable for me at this time. While some bridges can wait, there is one that needs more attention. It's a tooth with an old root canal done about 6 years ago that according to several dentists I have seen is infected. I never had any symptoms, no pain, no swelling, nothing. My dentist told me that the lack of pain and swelling is because there is some form of drainage. Does this make sense? Can you explain?

And my next question is: pulling the tooth should resolve the infection but then I am left with a big gap that shows if I am smiling. To save money I asked my dentist if I could pull the tooth now and then do the bridge later. He said no, because once the tooth is pulled, changes take place in the mouth and it becomes more difficult to fit the crown etc. etc. Is this true? I always thought you can get a bridge done even years after a tooth has fallen or was pulled out. So wondering if they're just trying to make me do it all at once so they get paid more right away.

Dear Adrienne,

A tooth can be infected, and you may not feel it because what causes the pain is the infection trying to expand into space that does not allow it to (like inside the root of a tooth, or between the root and the jawbone, or inside the jawbone).  If the infection has found a place to drain, like through a hole in the bone into your gum, or up into your sinus cavity, or down your neck, you may not feel the infection even though you are fighting infection.  Of course, the drainage can cause infections to spread to your throat, lungs, sinuses, brain or heart.  This is why we recommend removal of an infected tooth before the infection catches up to your vital organs.

Your dentist is correct.  Often when a tooth is removed, the teeth around it tend to move to fill the space, often causing tipping, spacing and extrusion.  However, waiting less than six months will probably (notice I said probably) will not cause much harm.  And if you are getting a bridge, any changes will likely be corrected with the making of the bridge.  Wait more than 6 months, and you are probably looking at a more difficult and expensive fix.

If the missing tooth is close enough to the front to be noticed when you smile, you will not want to go long before replacing it.  When front teeth shift, the movement cannot be corrected with just a bridge.  This is why you will want to replace the lost tooth as soon as possible.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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