A dental bridge is a type of dental work that replaces a tooth or a few consecutive missing teeth. Two dental crowns are placed on the healthy teeth living on either side of the gap left by your lost tooth. A false tooth, or pontic, is attached to the crowns and literally bridges the gap, replacing your missing tooth.
Dental bridges can be used to replace up to 3 consecutive missing teeth.
Your dentist will clean and numb your mouth, and then begin to trim away a thin layer of enamel from the two teeth next to your missing tooth. These are known as “abutment teeth” and they will hold your crowns. Your bridge will permanently attach to these crowns.
Once your abutment teeth have been prepared, your dentist will use dental putty and trays to take impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be used by a technician at a dental lab to build your dental bridge.
Depending on your needs, your dentist will place a temporary resin bridge to protect your prepared abutment teeth, or two temporary dental crowns. Either way, your prepared teeth will be covered and protected until your permanent bridge can be placed.
Once your permanent bridge is ready, usually within a few weeks, you’ll come into the office to have the bridge checked for proper fit. Minor adjustments may be made by your dentist, if necessary, to ensure that your bridge looks and feels natural. If the bridge requires larger adjustments, it will be sent back to the lab for further refinement.
Once you and your dentist have determined that the fit of your bridge feels right, they will use powerful dental cement to attach it permanently to your abutment teeth, restoring your smile and your bite.
Traditional dental bridges are made out of two crowns, which are attached permanently to “abutment teeth.” These are the healthy teeth located next to one or more missing teeth within your mouth. Between these teeth, a metal or porcelain framework is used to suspend one or more “pontics” (false teeth). These false teeth literally “bridge” the gap between your missing teeth, restoring your smile.
Unlike a traditional fixed bridge, which supports your bridge using two abutment teeth, a cantilever bridge uses only a single tooth to support your bridge. In this type of bridge, a single tooth is trimmed next to your missing tooth. Then, a bridge is made that consists of a single crown and an artificial tooth. The crown is attached to your abutment tooth, and then the artificial tooth is suspended in the gap where your missing tooth used to be, restoring your smile.
Cantilever bridges are less invasive than traditional bridges, since only one tooth has to be trimmed, and they are usually less expensive than traditional bridges. While they're not strong enough to be used in other areas of the mouth, you must have a healthy mouth to get a cantilever bridge.
A Maryland bridge does not require any removal of enamel or preparation of the adjacent teeth. In this treatment, a false tooth is built using a metal framework with “wings” that attach to the adjacent teeth. These “wings” are attached to the backs of your teeth using dental cement, holding the false tooth in place and restoring your smile. Maryland bridges are commonly used in the front teeth, and are ideal if you would like to restore your smile without any invasive dental treatment.
Bridges preserve your alignment, and keep your other teeth from shifting.
While every type of bridge is different, dental bridges all share similar characteristics, and work in the same way. A bridge is used to attach one or more false teeth to your existing teeth – locking them into place by using dental crowns (fixed and cantilever bridges) or metal “wings” that attach to the rear of your teeth (Maryland bridges).
Because they won’t move or shift, they’re a great alternative to partial dentures. And since they do not require invasive surgery, some patients prefer dental bridges as an alternative to dental implants.
Dental bridges are considered to be a permanent treatment, since they can only be removed by a dental professional and they typically last 10-15 years or longer.
In addition, the tooth preparation procedure for your abutment teeth is not reversible. It requires the permanent removal of enamel from one or more of your teeth, so you may want to keep this in mind when deciding whether or not a bridge is right for you.
Yes. Dental bridges, just like all dental prostheses, can become damaged over time, or simply worn down from daily use when chewing, biting, smiling, and speaking. Typically, bridges last between 10-20 years, but the expected lifespan of your bridge may be different depending on the type of bridge, how well you care for your teeth, and a few other factors.
This varies, depending on the type of dental bridge you choose. However, most dental bridges are made from porcelain or a combination of a metal framework, which supports the teeth and ensures they’re in the proper place, and one or more porcelain crowns and false teeth. Acrylic teeth are sometimes used for dental bridges, but usually they are only used for temporary bridges, since acrylic is much less durable than porcelain and ceramic materials.
The cost of dental bridges is different for each patient. Factors that may affect the cost of your bridge include your overall oral health, the type of bridge you choose, pre-treatment surgeries (like tooth extraction) and more. The best way to find out how much you’ll pay for a dental bridge is to schedule a consultation with your dentist.
However, dental bridges are usually covered, at least in part, by dental insurance when they’re used to restore missing teeth. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about your coverage.
Dental bridges are non-surgical and can last for several decades with proper care.