Missing teeth not only make talking and chewing more difficult,
but they can also cause other problems over time. Teeth adjacent
to the space in your mouth can eventually shift into the empty
space, which can affect your bite and lead to gum disease or other
disorders such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint issues).
One way to take care of a gap caused by a missing tooth is with a
dental bridge. There are two types of bridges: removable and
Removable dental bridges are also called partial dentures and
can be taken out and cleaned
- Permanent dental bridges are the more long-term option.
- Implants are more permanent long term options.
What are dental bridges?
If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge can fill
the gap with one or more artificial (false) teeth. A bridge is
typically made of crowns on either side of the missing tooth or
teeth supporting the pontic (false tooth) and is cemented in
Who needs a dental bridge?
Dental bridges can help if you have a missing tooth or teeth. The
most common causes of missing teeth are tooth decay, gum disease
and injury. Or you may have been born with missing teeth due to a
congenital condition. To get a dental bridge, you need healthy
teeth on either side of the missing ones.
Why do I need a dental bridge?
Your teeth work together. If a tooth is missing, nearby teeth can
move into the empty space. The teeth in your opposite jaw can also
move up or down toward the space. This can cause:
- Bite problems.
- Chewing difficulties.
- Pain from the extra stress on your teeth and jaw.
- Self-consciousness about the way you look or your smile.
What does a dental bridge look like?
A typical dental bridge has:
Abutment teeth: A dental professional places
two crowns on the teeth on either side of the gap. These
anchoring teeth, or supporting teeth, can be your natural teeth
or dental implants.
Pontics: This false tooth (or teeth) fills in
the gap and attaches to the crowns.
What types of dental bridges are available?
The four main types of bridges are:
Traditional fixed bridge: This bridge is the
most common. It has two or more crowns and a filler tooth or
teeth that are all connected. The crowns keep the bridge in
place. Traditional bridges are made of metal, porcelain fused to
metal, or ceramics.
Cantilever bridge: In this bridge type, the
pontic connects to only one abutment tooth. This can sometimes
be an option for people who have teeth on only one side of the
Maryland dental bridge (resin-bonded bridge):
You may have this type of bridge if you have missing front
teeth. It’s made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramic
teeth, supported by a framework. Wings on each side of the
bridge bond to your existing teeth.
Implant supported bridge: This bridge is
similar to a “traditional fixed bridge” but instead
of being cemented in place to teeth, it is held in place by
What can I use instead of a dental bridge?
Some people choose partial
dentures, which are removable false teeth. You take them out to clean
them. You may also be a candidate for a dental implant. An implant is surgically placed in your jaw. Your dentist can
help you figure out what the best option is for you.
Do I need dental implants?
Sometimes, your dentist may recommend a dental implant instead of
a bridge. A dental lab creates new teeth based on a model of your
mouth. A surgeon places the implant in your jaw. Over time, the
implants integrate with the jawbone and are connected to the new
teeth. An advantage of implants is that they don’t need
support from the other teeth.
How common are dental bridges?
Dental bridges are a common solution for missing teeth. Dentists
have used them for many years.
What happens during a procedure for a traditional dental bridge?
You’ll typically need at least two appointments:
Abutment teeth preparation: During your first
visit, your healthcare provider reshapes the abutment teeth.
They’ll remove part of the enamel and dentin, so
there’s room for the crown.
Impressions: Your provider takes impressions or
a digital scan of your teeth. A dental laboratory uses the mold
or scan as a model to create your bridge, false teeth and
crowns. You’ll have a temporary bridge to protect the
exposed areas in your mouth while the lab makes your bridge.
Permanent bridge placement: During your second
visit, your provider removes the temporary bridge and places the
permanent bridge. Your provider will carefully check the bridge
and make any needed adjustments to make sure it fits you
RISKS / BENEFITS
What are the advantages of this procedure?
A dental bridge can:
- Help your bite.
- Prevent remaining teeth from moving out of place.
- Restore your ability to chew and speak.
- Restore your smile.
Do dental bridges have any risks or complications?
If you care for your bridge properly, it can last many years
without complications. The bridge may fail if the surrounding
teeth decay or if the cement deteriorates. If the bridge comes
loose and the supporting teeth are still healthy and intact, your
provider may be able to re-attach it with new cement.