A dental bridge is a permanent appliance that replaces a missing tooth or missing teeth. It has several pieces that are fused together to fit into the open space where your tooth or teeth used to be.
Dental bridges are an alternative to partial dentures. A bridge can help you eat and speak more effectively and also make your teeth look better.
A dental bridge can be made of different materials, including gold, alloys, or porcelain. When replacing a front tooth, porcelain is most often used because it can be matched to your natural tooth color.
This article will go over the different kinds of dental bridges. You will learn what to expect if you need to get a dental bridge placed, as well as the pros and cons of having a dental bridge.
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Types of Dental Bridges
The artificial teeth used in dental bridges are called pontics. You'll have a pontic for each missing tooth. A pontic is made to be close in shape and size to the tooth that's missing.
Pontics are anchored to a tooth next to the gap (abutment teeth) or to a dental implant.
The four types of dental bridges are:
- Traditional fixed bridges are the most common type of bridge. It includes a crown on either side of the pontic(s).
- Maryland dental bridges or resin-bonded bridges are often used to replace front teeth. Instead of crowns, this type of dental bridge uses porcelain or metal frameworks with "wings" that are bonded to the back of your teeth on either side of the gap.
- Implant-supported bridges use an implant for each missing tooth that is surgically embedded into your jawbone during one procedure. The bridge contains the pontics and is placed over them in a later procedure.
- Cantilever bridges are no longer commonly used. When only one side of the gap has a natural tooth, the pontic(s) are anchored by a single crown on that natural tooth.
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Advantages of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges can provide many benefits, including:
- Giving your mouth and smile a natural look
- Restoring your ability to speak normally, as missing teeth can make it hard to pronounce words (enunciate)
- Maintaining normal facial structure by preventing bone loss from the jaw at the site of the missing tooth/teeth
- Helping you chew food more efficiently
- Preventing adjacent teeth from moving into the empty space, which can cause problems with your bite and other complications
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Disadvantages of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges do have some disadvantages, including:
- Future damage to the abutment teeth can compromise the bridge
- Bacteria and plaque can get inside a bridge or crown that does not fit well and cause tooth decay
- Crowns can change the structure of your teeth and affect your bite
- A bridge can collapse if the abutment teeth are not strong enough to support it
- Abutment teeth can be weakened by the procedure(s) and may have to be replaced by dental implants
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Are You a Good Candidate for a Dental Bridge?
Not everyone is a good candidate for a dental bridge. You will need to talk to your dentist about whether it would be beneficial for you to get a bridge.
Factors that make you a good candidate for a dental bridge include:
- Missing one or more permanent teeth
- Having overall good health (e.g., no serious medical conditions, infections, or other health problems)
- Having healthy teeth and a strong bone structure to support the bridge
- Having good oral health
- Can perform proper oral hygiene to maintain the condition of the dental bridge
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Getting a Dental Bridge
For most dental bridges, you'll have at least two procedures performed, and the process can take a long time.
A Maryland bridge requires fewer appointments than the other types of dental bridges because the abutment teeth do not need to be prepared.
Regardless of the type you go with, your dentist will need to take impressions or a digital scan of your teeth that the lab will use to shape the components of the bridge.
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Traditional or Cantilever Bridge
The first step to getting a traditional fixed or cantilever dental bridge is preparing the abutment tooth/teeth.
Your dentist will start by removing some of the enamel and dentin from the abutment teeth to make space for the crowns. Then, they'll place a temporary bridge over those teeth to protect them until the bridge is placed.
During a later appointment, your dentist will:
- Remove the temporary crowns
- Check the permanent crowns and bridge for a proper fit
- Cement the bridge in place
Sometimes, the bridge is permanently cemented during this procedure. However, your dentist may opt for temporary cement instead, which gives you time to make sure the bridge fits properly before it is made permanent.
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For a Maryland bridge, all that needs to happen to your abutment teeth is a little etching on the back side, which helps the wings bond to it.
Once it's tested for proper fit, your dentist will:
- Place the bridge
- Bond the metal wings to the abutment teeth with a strong resin
- Cure the resin
An implant-supported bridge requires surgery to place the implants in your jawbone followed by time for you to heal.
Healing time for an implant-supported bridge varies greatly depending on where in your mouth the implants are and whether your jawbone needs to be built up to support the implants.
You may have a temporary bridge to wear until your next procedure when your dentist will place the permanent bridge over the implants. This procedure involves small incisions in the gums, so healing time is greater than with other types of bridges.
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Taking Care of a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges are considered "permanent" because you can't take them out like you can dentures; however, they don't last forever.
The average dental bridge lasts between five and seven years. With proper care, some bridges can last more than a decade. Advances in dental bridge materials and methods are likely to make them even more durable in the future.
The best way to get the most out of your dental bridge is to take proper care of it.
How to Make Your Dental Bridge Last
Good oral hygiene is important if you have a dental bridge because you want to keep your remaining teeth strong and healthy. Having good oral health is also important if you want a long lifespan for your bridge.
Just as with your natural teeth, you need to brush and floss your bridge at least twice each day.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will show you how to properly floss and clean around your bridge.It's also important to see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and exams.
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Right after your bridge is placed, you may need to be especially careful about what you eat as your mouth is healing. Your dentist will give you specific instructions to follow during that time.
In the long term, certain foods can cause problems for dental bridges or abutment teeth. If you want your bridge to last and avoid damaging it, you'll have to avoid these foods.
Foods you should avoid if you have a dental bridge include:
- Chewy/sticky candy (can pull crowns off of the abutment teeth)
- Hard candy or snacks
- Sugary foods (can cause tooth decay under the crowns)
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There are advantages and disadvantages to getting a dental bridge, but studies have shown that with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, a dental bridge can be an effective, long-lasting solution to missing teeth.
However, certain factors determine who is a good candidate for a dental bridge. Your dentist can help you decide if a dental bridge is right for you, as well as which type of dental bridge will be the best fit.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dental cantilever bridge?
A cantilever bridge is one type of dental bridge. It has an artificial tooth called a pontic that's connected to one abutment tooth (metal connector).
A cantilever bridge type is not common today; it was mostly used for people who only had teeth on one side of a gap.
Which dental bridge is used for front teeth?
In many cases, the Maryland dental bridge (resin-bonded bridge) is used if a person is missing front teeth. This type of dental bridge uses porcelain fused with a metal framework that connects to existing teeth.
What happens during a dental bridge procedure?
A traditional dental bridge placement usually requires two appointments.
During the first appointment, your dentist will prepare the abutment teeth and take impressions (digital scans) of your teeth. You'll get a temporary bridge while a dental laboratory creates your final dental bridge.
During a second appointment, the temporary bridge will be replaced by the final, permanent dental bridge. Adjustments can be made to make sure the bridge is a comfortable fit.(Video) Should I Get a Dental Implant or Bridge on My Front Teeth If I Have Bone Loss?
How much does a dental bridge cost?
If you have dental insurance, some or all of the cost of a dental bridge might be covered. The cost of a dental bridge without insurance can range from $700 to $1,500 per tooth.
Do I need a bone graft for a dental bridge?
You may need a bone graft before you get a dental bridge if you've had a tooth taken out.
Is a dental bridge painful?
You may have some pain and discomfort after a dental bridge procedure as your mouth is healing and adjusting. Once you've recovered, your dental bridge should not hurt or be uncomfortable.
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What is the downside of a dental bridge? ›
Disadvantages Of Dental Bridges
An ill-fitting bridge causes tooth decay formation under the Crown. Your abutment teeth are compromised to accommodate the dental crowns during the preparation. The restoration can collapse if your abutment teeth do not have the strength required.
Bridges don't address bone loss.
Replacing the tooth root with a dental implant is the only way to stop bone resorption and grow that bone tissue back. Because bridges sit above the gum line, the jawbone will continue to deteriorate.
Bridges have many advantages over dentures.
Dentists often recommend bridges instead of dentures if the patient has enough healthy teeth left. The healthy teeth can act as anchors for bridges, as opposed to dentures that must be anchored to the gums using some time of temporary sealant which is not as secure.
It restores the function of your teeth like chewing and speaking properly. It prevents your remaining teeth from shifting which causes problem in your bite. It reduces the risk of bone loss thus maintaining the structures of your face. The bridges are permanently fixed thus preventing it from moving like dentures.Who is not a good candidate for a dental bridge? ›
Dental bridges are not ideal for patients with gingivitis, periodontal disease, or other infections. They can cause bruising and damage to the gum as you take time to be comfortable using them. Undergo treatment for other dental issues first.Who is not a candidate for a dental bridge? ›
Candidates for dental bridges
These teeth must have a strong root. People who have problems with their teeth that might require a procedure like a root canal in the future are not good candidates for dental bridges because the teeth could become infected or lose their strength and become damaged over time.
Dental implants are 95% to 98% successful for 40 to 50+ years. Success rates for dental implants do not decrease over time. Success rates for bridges decreases steadily after 10 years. At 15 years, 1 in 3 bridges will typically fail.Why is a doctor prefer bridge over implant? ›
On instances where you have two broken down teeth next to the missing tooth, a dental bridge would be preferable to an implant. This is because those teeth need crowns for extra protection. Bridges are more flexible when it comes to controlling the color of more than two teeth for a lesser price.What is the life expectancy of a dental bridge? ›
According to the Cleveland Clinic, dental bridges need to be replaced about every 5 to 7 years; however, the University of Rochester Medical Center reports they can also last for a decade or longer with the right care.Do dental bridges fall out easily? ›
Myth: Bridges fall out easily.
While bridges do sometimes loosen over time, they can easily be tightened by your dentist. However, they're built to last a lifetime, so the chances of your bridge falling out are miniscule.
How painful is getting a dental bridge? ›
Is the dental bridge preparation painful? The bridge procedure is not painful because a local anesthetic is used while paring your teeth and when tyour dentist takes an impression. It is often unnecessary to take an analgesic for pain relief after the treatment.Does a dental bridge look natural? ›
Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.Does food get stuck under dental bridge? ›
Since there's a space underneath the prosthetic tooth, it's easy for food to get trapped under or around a bridge. It's important to get regular checkups to make sure your dental bridge is fitting well. To dislodge food debris, it's helpful to carry interdental brushes and/or floss threaders with you.
It is important to clean your dental bridge to prevent infections. Since a dental bridge is permanent, you cannot remove it to clean it. Choose an easy-to-use aid such as a floss threader, super floss, interdental brush or water pick for your dental bridge.Is it hard to talk with a bridge? ›
Will a bridge affect my ability to eat or speak? Since bridges are permanently bonded to adjacent teeth and are not removable, most patients do not encounter difficulty when speaking or eating. An adjustment period is expected, though, especially when a patient goes from missing teeth to receiving prosthetics.How many teeth can be on bridge? ›
Dental bridges help replace one to four teeth, depending on your needs. However, generally, people replace one or two teeth. However, in rare cases, you can also have four teeth in a dental bridge, especially if you have sufficient healthy teeth present in your mouth to connect with dental crowns.What is better a tooth implant or bridge? ›
However, dental implants are much more effective than bridges in the long run and are also better in terms of oral health. The fact that they usually last longer than bridges accounts for the high cost that is generally associated with implant surgery.What does the dentist do to put in a bridge? ›
In the dental bridge procedure, your abutment teeth are trimmed, then impressions and molds are taken of your teeth, and a dental bridge is built. The crowns will fit perfectly over your trimmed teeth, and are permanently attached using dental cement. Then, they hold your false teeth into place, restoring your smile.Do dental bridges fail? ›
The most common causes for dental bridge failure are: Lack of Support: When the abutment teeth used to support the dental bridge are lacking the necessary structure, it can cause your teeth to become unbalanced. As a result, trauma from chewing and biting down on the restoration occurs and leads to failure.How many appts are needed for a dental bridge? ›
Procedures for fixed bridges typically require two to three appointments. During the first appointment, the abutment teeth, natural teeth on each side of the missing tooth, are shaped to hold the crowns.
Who is a good candidate for dental bridges? ›
What makes someone a good candidate for a dental bridge? Patients who are good candidates for dental bridges will have one or more missing teeth that have either fallen out or been extracted. They must also have two strong and healthy teeth I the mouth on each side of the area where teeth are missing.Can you chew gum with a permanent bridge? ›
It is never a good idea to consume sticky foods, but it is an even worse idea when you have dental bridges or crowns. Sticky foods can get stuck in the dental restoration and pull it right out. Foods like caramel, fruit snacks, gum, and sticky candies should not be consumed when you have dental restorations.Is a bridge cheaper then an implant? ›
A bridge is much less expensive than implants, and with CEREC technology, a bridge can be placed in a single visit. However, a bridge is much less stable than an implant and usually lasts for about 10 years if you follow a sound oral health regimen.How long does it take to put a bridge in? ›
A dental bridge procedure usually takes two to three weeks to complete. The first step in the procedure is to prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a small amount of enamel. This creates a small ledge that the dental bridge will sit on.Can a bridge damage other teeth? ›
Dental bridges are a quick and easy fix for missing teeth. Unfortunately, bridges can damage healthy surrounding teeth in your mouth and do not prevent bone loss, which could cause more problems in later life.How long does a dental bridge usually last? ›
The Life Expectancy of Bridges
Some experts say that a dental bridge may last for just 5 – 7 years. However, others offer a different opinion and say that a bridge can easily last for 10 – 15 years. With proper care, it is even possible that a bridge could last a lifetime.
How long do dental bridges last? Dental bridges can last at least five to seven years. With good oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings, the bridge may last more than 10 years.Why do dental bridges smell? ›
As long as you clean around your bridge each day, it shouldn't be a problem. But if buildup accumulates over time, it can lead to tartar deposits, gum infections, and halitosis (bad breath) coming from those teeth.What foods to avoid with dental bridge? ›
Hard foods require reasonable pressure to crush them, and this pressure can damage or fracture the bridge's structure, and a replacement bridge would be required. So, you should avoid foods like popcorn kernels, chips, raw carrots, and hard candies after a dental bridge to make it lasts longer.How do I clean under my dental bridge? ›
Simply loop the floss through the threader, then slide the pointed end under and out the other side of your bridge. At that point, hold the floss and swipe back and forth underneath the bridge, then wrapping the floss around each supporting tooth/implant to clean just under the gums in those areas.
Is it too late to get a dental bridge? ›
While the complexity of the case is unique to each patient, the answer is almost always yes. As long as there is enough bone remaining to insert a dental implant, it is never too late to reap the benefits of this remarkable restorative solution.Will gums grow over bridge? ›
Unfortunately the gum will not grow down because the bridge teeth are way too bulky and not in proportion with your natural teeth. You need to have a consultation with an experienced cosmetic dentist to have it replaced.What is the failure rate of dental bridges? ›
Dental implants are 95% to 98% successful for 40 to 50+ years. Success rates for dental implants do not decrease over time. Success rates for bridges decreases steadily after 10 years. At 15 years, 1 in 3 bridges will typically fail.Is it better to get a crown or a bridge? ›
We generally recommend bridges when you lose one or more tooth in its entirety. In contrast, we usually recommend a dental crown for one of the following reasons: Restoring a cracked or fractured tooth. Replacing a large filling.How many teeth are needed for a bridge? ›
A dental bridge can be used to replace anywhere from one to four teeth, depending on the patient's needs. However, it is most common that one to two teeth will be replaced.Does a dental bridge feel natural? ›
What Do Dental Bridges Feel Like? Fixed dental bridges aren't removable. They should feel similarly to natural teeth, since crowns are designed to look as close to real teeth as possible. When you first get your bridge, you might feel mild discomfort and tenderness as your mouth adjusts.Can you brush your teeth after a bridge? ›
You should brush regularly and floss carefully to keep your mouth clean. During the first 24 hours, brush along the gum line around the crown or bridge—and be sure to thread the floss through at the gumline, do not pull up as this can loosen the crown. The day after your procedure, you can floss normally.
Your adjacent teeth need to be strong and healthy enough to support the bridge. The dentist shaves down the enamel of the natural teeth to accommodate the crown. We attach the crowns to the bridge to create a continuous set of teeth.
Is the dental bridge preparation painful? The bridge procedure is not painful because a local anesthetic is used while paring your teeth and when tyour dentist takes an impression. It is often unnecessary to take an analgesic for pain relief after the treatment.