Types Of Dental Bridges

If you're missing a tooth, a dental bridge can fill in the gap, restoring function and preventing your other teeth from shifting into the empty space. Unlike implants, bridges don't require surgery. Dental bridges are less costly than implants as well. There are four types of bridges, and your dentist can help you decide which option is best for your individual needs.


The traditional dental bridge is the most common type. This is the type of bridge your dentist will most likely suggest if the teeth on either side of the gap are your natural, healthy teeth. A traditional bridge is typically made of ceramic or metal with a false tooth called a pontic made of porcelain. Gold and silver amalgam are also sometimes used for pontics. Your dentist will place crowns on your surrounding teeth and attach the bridge with the pontic to those crowns to hold it in place.


Just like traditional bridges, Maryland bridges require the patient to have two natural teeth, one on either side of the opening the bridge will fill. Maryland bridges don't require the dentist to place crowns on your surrounding teeth like traditional bridges do, however. Instead, the pontic in a Maryland bridge is held in place by a frame made of metal or porcelain that your dentist will bond to your surrounding teeth, often referred to as the abutment teeth. Maryland bridges are usually bonded to the backs of the teeth so no one can see the attachment point.


If you only have one natural tooth surrounding the gap from your missing tooth, you may be a candidate for a cantilever bridge. Similar to a traditional dental bridge in most ways, a cantilever bridge is only attached to one adjacent tooth. Just as with a traditional bridge, your dentist will have to place a crown on the tooth your bridge will be attached to before placing the cantilever bridge.


An implant-supported bridge is an option for people who don't have healthy, natural teeth surrounding the gap. Most of the time, dentists place an implant for every missing tooth. The pontic for each hole is then attached to a bridge held in place by the corresponding implant. In some cases, an implant-supported bridge can be held in place between just two implant crowns if it's not possible to attach one for each missing tooth. The entire process for an implant-supported bridge can take up to several months to complete because your dentist will first have to perform surgery to insert the dental implants into your jawbone. Once the implants are secure and you've had time to heal, you'll need at least one more surgery to place the bridge itself. Because dental implants are involved, this type of bridge is the most expensive, but it's also the most stable bridge.

Talk to your dentist about your options to replace your missing teeth. Your insurance may cover most of the cost of having a bridge placed, and many dentists offer payment plans or work with other companies for financing.