What is a Dental Bridge
If you have missing teeth, your dentist can close — or bridge — the gaps in your smile with dental bridges. A dental bridge is a false tooth (called a pontic) that is held in place by the abutment teeth on either side of the gap. Although pontics can be made from a variety of materials such as gold, typically they’re made from porcelain to aesthetically blend in with your natural teeth.
A dental bridge is a fixed (permanent) restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth in your mouth. Dental bridges mimic the look, shape, and function of natural teeth. They are also custom-made for every patient.
In more serious cases, a patient may need multiple dental bridges. This is called "full mouth rehabilitation." If you have a lot of teeth missing, your dentist may recommend dentures instead.
Most dental bridges are made of porcelain. They are attached to a metal structure for support. Other dental bridges are made of “all-ceramic,” which is a combination of porcelain and other materials that are similar in appearance.
Before dental bridge placement, your dentist will remove a certain amount of tooth structure from the abutment teeth. Abutment teeth refer to the teeth supporting the dental bridge on each side. The amount of tooth structure removal required for dental bridges is the same for both the front and back teeth.
2. Cantilever Bridge:
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges because they are made of porcelain fused to metal. However, to support a cantilever bridge, a patient must have one natural tooth next to the missing tooth.
In a cantilever dental bridge, a dental crown (artificial tooth) is placed over the unhealthy tooth on either side.
This type of bridge is typically used to restore front teeth. Cantilever bridges aren’t strong enough to support molars (back teeth).
4 Types of Dental Bridges:
1. Traditional Bridge:
Traditional dental bridges are the most common type of dental bridge. They consist of ceramic, porcelain fused to metal, or all-metal like gold. These bridges have one fake tooth, also called a pontic, that a dental crown holds in place on each side.
During a traditional dental bridge procedure, your dentist will shape and file the two teeth next to the fake tooth. This ensures the two dental crowns fit correctly. Traditional bridges are durable, strong, and last a long time with proper care.
Traditional bridges are typically used to restore posterior (back) teeth, such as premolars and molars.
3. Maryland Bridge:
Maryland bridges, also called adhesive bridges, are less invasive than traditional dental bridges. They consist of a pontic (fake tooth) that is supported by a metal framework.
Maryland bridges are made of porcelain. They also have “wings” that bond to the adjacent teeth, which keeps the bridge stable. Today, most Maryland bridges have porcelain wings, instead of metal wings. Porcelain looks almost identical to the color of your natural teeth.
Less tooth removal is necessary for Maryland bridges because they attach to the backside of the front teeth next to the missing tooth. Other types of dental bridges require more tooth structure removal before placement.
4. Implant Supported Bridge:
As the name implies, implant-supported bridges use dental implants as opposed to crowns or frameworks. Typically, one implant is surgically placed for every missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in position. If one implant for each missing tooth isn’t possible, the bridge may have a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns.
Considered the strongest and most stable system, an implant-supported bridge commonly requires two surgeries:
One to embed the implants in the jawbone
A second surgery to place the bridge
It can take a number of months for the procedure to be completely finished.