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.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/01/2020.

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