Dental Bridges

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 permanent. 

  • 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 place.

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 gap.
  • 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 implants.

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 comfortably.


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.