Dental bridges are removable or permanent appliances used to replace missing teeth. Bridges comprise one to three artificial teeth called pontics placed between or next to crowns, implants or natural teeth. A well-done bridge gives the look, feel and function of natural teeth.
Bridges may be used to repair:
- Tooth decay
- Root canal failure
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
- Excessive wear and tear
- Congenital defects
- Injury or trauma
Bridges can be made of porcelain bonded to precious metal, porcelain alone, or metal alone. Some parts of a bridge, especially the pontic, may be made of plastic or ceramic materials. A bridge is permanent and is attached to one or more of the adjacent teeth.
Three main types of bridges are available. You and your dentist will determine the type of bridge that is best for you.
- Traditional fixed bridges require crowns to be cemented on adjacent teeth. The job of a bridge is to fully support artificial replacement teeth. Traditional fixed bridges may also be placed between crowns anchored by dental implants.
- Cantilever bridges are used when the missing tooth has adjacent teeth only on one side. An anchor is bonded to one or more teeth on one side of the open space. Cantilever bridges are only an option in areas with lower bite strength and are comparable to traditional bridges in cost.
- Resin-bonded bridges (Maryland bonded bridges) have a metal framework attached to the back of the artificial tooth that is bonded directly to the healthy adjacent teeth. Resin-bonded bridges are best suited for front teeth where bite strength is lower. Resin-bonded bridges are the least expensive type of bridge. Dental implants and partial dentures are superior alternatives to dental bridges. Dental bridges are usually less costly than implants or partial dentures and the procedure requires less time to complete. See sections on Dental Implants and Dentures for more information.
- Restores smile
- Improves tooth function
- Improves speech
- Improves self-esteem and confidence