older gentleman sitting on couch smiling

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a prosthesis that bridges a gap or gaps in your smile caused by one or more missing teeth. A fixed bridge consists of a false tooth, called a pontic, or a series of pontics, anchored in place by abutment teeth on either side of the gap.

While pontics may be constructed from various materials, including gold, usually they’re made of porcelain to blend in with your natural tooth enamel.

What types of dental bridges can I choose from?

Traditional dental bridge – A traditional bridge consists of a pontic anchored to dental crowns cemented onto each of the abutment teeth. Traditional bridges are widely used and are suitable if you have natural teeth on either side of the gap that can support the bridge.

Cantilever dental bridge – While similar to a traditional bridge, in the cantilever bridge, the pontic is anchored to a dental crown cemented to only one abutment tooth.

Maryland dental bridge – Like the traditional bridge, the Maryland bridge requires two abutment teeth on either side. However, instead of being anchored to crowns on the abutment teeth, a Maryland bridge is anchored to a metal or porcelain structure bonded onto the backside of the abutment teeth.

Implant-supported dental bridge – The implant-supported dental bridge is considered the most stable and most suitable for those missing multiple teeth. An implant-supported bridge requires two oral surgeries to attach the implants to the jawbone, and to anchor the bridge to the implants. The procedure may take several months to complete as healing is required between surgeries. In the implant-supported bridge, one implant is used to replace the root of each missing tooth, and the bridge is anchored to these implants. When one implant for each missing tooth is not feasible, a pontic may be suspended between two crowns anchored to implants.

Why should I consider a dental bridge?

Healthy teeth are essential to optimal health, and missing teeth may impact a person’s comfort and appearance in several ways. A dental bridge is a cosmetic dental procedure that enhances your smile and protects the surrounding teeth from shifting.

Tooth loss leads to bone loss if the missing tooth is not replaced quickly, and bone loss causes changes in your facial structure, making your face appear aged and sunken. A dental bridge can prevent bone loss associated with missing teeth while supporting your facial structure and the natural shape of your face.

A bridge can also correct chewing problems by restoring missing teeth and redistributing the pressure of your bite. This may alleviate headaches and other discomforts in some patients.

A dental bridge also prevents your remaining teeth from moving out of their proper position, as teeth will naturally tend to do if there is a gap in the gum line.

How long does a dental bridge last?

Dental bridges are built to last anywhere from five to 15 years, but many may last even longer. If you practice good oral hygiene, maintain regular checkups, and properly care for your dental bridge, it is very likely that your bridge may last well over 10 years.