What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement option for one or more adjacent teeth. A bridge is supported by two crowns that fit over the natural teeth on either side of the gap with an artificial tooth or teeth (pontics) suspended between them. The crowns and pontics are connected in a single solid piece with the pontics resting on top of the gums.
Benefits of Bridges
Dental bridges offer many benefits:
- Replace multiple teeth in a row. A bridge can replace a single tooth or a few teeth as long as they are adjacent to each other. It achieves this using a single prosthetic.
- Affordable. Bridges cost significantly less than dental implants and are typically covered by insurance, making the out of pocket cost much lower to replace one or more missing teeth.
- Available to more patients. A bridge sits above the gums, whereas a dental implant is surgically placed in the jaw bone, requiring a certain amount of bone density to support it. After a tooth is missing the support structures for that tooth weaken and dissolve over time, meaning there won’t be enough bone left to place an implant. But a bridge can be placed regardless of bone density, making it a more versatile option that can work for a wider population of patients.
- Natural appearance. A bridge can be custom designed to match the color and shape of your existing teeth for a natural looking smile.
Types of Bridges
There are 4 main types of dental bridges:
- Traditional. A traditional bridge is the type described above, supported by two dental crowns with one or more artificial teeth suspended between them.
- Cantilever. A cantilever bridge is supported by just one crown on one side of the missing tooth. This is most often used to replace the last molar in the back of your mouth that has no other tooth behind it for support.
- Maryland. A Maryland bridge attaches to the existing teeth with metal pieces that adhere to the back of the neighboring teeth.
- Implant supported. An implant supported bridge has two dental implants on either end of the bridge that act as anchors for support.
Are You a Good Candidate for a Bridge?
If you have a tooth that has been missing for an extended period of time, a bridge may be an ideal tooth replacement option for you. Over time the jaw bone that once supported a missing tooth will weaken and dissolve, making it unfit to support a dental implant. You may also be a good candidate for a bridge if you have a limited budget, as bridges cost less and are more likely to be covered by insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a bridge require surgery?
The placement of a dental bridge is a non-surgical dental procedure. A traditional bridge does not require surgery, only local anesthesia to prepare the teeth that will receive the crowns. The only type of bridge that requires surgery is an implant supported bridge.
How does a bridge affect the support teeth?
A bridge can eventually cause damage to the support teeth that are fitted with crowns. Over time if the wear becomes too great, an alternative option for tooth replacement may be required. In most cases the bridge can last for many years without a problem.
What is the most common type of bridge?
A traditional bridge is probably the most common type because it is a relatively simple solution for replacing a single missing or damaged tooth. An implant supported bridge is also frequently used. Cantilever and Maryland bridges are less common because they have some disadvantages when compared to the other types, such as lack of stability and higher risk of damage to your healthy teeth.
Is a dental bridge the right tooth replacement option for me?
The right tooth replacement option varies from one patient to another. The best way to determine what option would suit you best is to have an evaluation and consultation to discuss your particular situation and the options available to you.