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Medically reviewed by Dr Jerry Jesin — By Andrea Galick

Tooth Bridges Explained

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7 months ago

For whatever reason, your dentist has informed you that two or three teeth have to go. Now the focus is what you are going to do once those teeth are gone. One solution that your dentist recommends is looking into the idea of getting a dental or tooth bridge. Is the right choice for you? Would a different approach be better? Before you make any decision, take the time to learn more about the different kinds of dental bridges. Here is some basic information that you need to know.

Exactly What is a Dental Bridge?

Tooth bridges are dental devices that are designed to fill in the gaps left when one or more natural teeth are extracted. This approach to dental restoration has been around for a long time. Like most medical treatments, the design and installation of bridges have changed over time, and in good ways. The effectiveness and durability of the bridges offered today are easily superior to what dental professionals could offer a couple of decades ago.

Bridges accomplish more than preserve your smile. They also protect the teeth found on each side of the gap and help to keep the bite more even. Most people find that they get used to having dental bridges quickly. That’s because they do function so well and they are relatively easy to care for as part of your daily dental hygiene routine.

Are There Different Kinds Of Bridges?

There is no such thing as one dental bridge design that will work for everyone. As your dentist will explain, there are dental bridge types that are ideal for patients with certain needs. The type of bridge that your dentist recommends will depend on the number of teeth missing, where those teeth are located, and the condition of the teeth found on one or both sides of the gap.

The single most common type of bridge is known as the basic or traditional bridge. Most patients will find this one is recommended since it works so well in a variety of situations. This kind of bridge can be used to fill in gaps that are created when the patient loses a couple of front teeth or a molar or two along the back.

With this type of bridge, the dentist has a custom set of pontics (or false teeth) created that are bonded together. The bridge is then held in place using some type of connection to the teeth on each side of the gap. This kind of bridge is do sturdy that it can easily last for several years.

Another option that may apply in your case is the cantilever bridge. The basic design is a lot like a traditional bridge, but with one exception: it’s designed to anchor to a real tooth on one side of a gap. If your missing teeth are along the back of the jaw and there’s not real teeth on each side, this may work for you. Keep in mind that while not as stable as a traditional bridge, it works reasonably well if you need something to replace one or two teeth.

A third approach is known as the Maryland bridge. While a traditional bridge requires some modification of the teeth on each side of the gap, this solution will employ some type of framework on the back side to help hold the bridge in position. From the front side, the teeth are not altered at all. While this solution is also not quite as stable as the traditional bridge, it is likely to last for several years.

The last option on the table is known as the implant-supported bridge. Many dentists will recommend this solution when you have more than a couple of teeth to replace. This approach involves inserting two or more implants into the gap and using them as the support framework for a custom-made bridge. In a sense, this is a more free-standing solution than a traditional bridge. This solution does not require any modification to the surrounding teeth and there’s no need to connect or bond with the teeth on each side of the gap.

A Word About Removable Versus Permanent Bridges

During the discussion about bridge options, you may be a little confused since some of the strategies involve changes to the real teeth and others do not. So is a tooth bridge permanent? Or are dental bridges removable? The best answer that your dentist can provide is that it depends on the kind of bridge that works best for you.

Some bridge designs include wire loops that slip over the teeth on each side and may not be held in place using anything else, or requires using some type of adhesive to help the bridge rest comfortably on the gum surface. These kind can be removed for cleaning when and as you like.

Other designs, especially those that require grinding and removing enamel from the surrounding teeth, are more likely to be fixed or permanent. These would remain in place and be brushed just as you would care for your real teeth.

When your dentist goes over the pros and cons associated with each bridge design, you’ll have a better idea of whether you would do well with a permanent bridge or if a removable one would be best.

How is a Bridge Done in Dentistry?

So what is the procedure for getting a dental bridge? First, the gap needs to be cleaned thoroughly. The dental team will check for any signs of inflammation or other complications. You’ll also be fitted for a custom bridge ahead of time.

On the day you are to receive the bridge, the dental team will administer some type of local anesthetic to deaden the area. Any modifications to the surrounding teeth are made at this time. The bridge is then positioned and any bonding or connection using a network of wire or porcelain is completed. The dentist may apply some quick tests to ensure the bite is correct and to make sure the bridge is stable.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bridge for Dental?

Are dental bridges expensive? The expense will vary somewhat based on the type of bridge that you need. Anything that requires additional modification to the surrounding teeth will increase the cost. That’s partially due to the fact that the modification will include creating and installing crowns on those teeth and possibly adding veneers.

The amount of advance work needed may also impact the total dental bridge costs. You can depend on the dental team to supply you with an estimate of the total charges involved before you consent to the work. Take that estimate and talk with your insurance provider. Depending on the reason for getting the bridge, such as dental restoration after an accident, the total amount may be covered.

Keep in mind that even if the total expense is not covered by your insurance, there are options for financing the balance. The staff at the dental office can provide some suggestions for you to consider.

What Benefits Will the Right Bridge Provide?

Do you really need to think about getting one of the different kinds of dental bridges? The answer is yes. While the bridge will improve your smile, the benefits go beyond appearance. Here are a couple to keep in mind.

One of the key dental bridge benefits is the impact that the right choice has on your bite. It helps to keep the bite more even. That quality helps to equalize the stress that your teeth undergo when you chew. As a result, your remaining natural teeth are not subjected to an unusual amount of wear and tear.

Can you eat with dental bridge? Absolutely! The fact that your bite is even also means that you can chew your food more effectively. That will help decrease the odds of any type of digestive upset or other problem from arising.

There’s also the matter of protecting the surrounding teeth from an increased risk of cavities. By filling in the gap with a bridge, there is less potential for residue and bacteria to collect in the space. That in turn means the odds of decay developing along those open sides of the teeth is lower.

You will likely have more questions that need answers before you make a decision. For example, is a bridge better than an implant? How long will a bridge last? What will you have to do in order to minimize the potential for damage? Whatever question you can imagine, your dentist will have some type of dental bridge use case that provides the perfect answer.

Do give the idea of a dental bridge careful consideration before deciding it’s not right for you. Many people find bridges to be excellent solutions and wear them comfortably for a long time. After having a bridge for a few weeks, it will be easy to see why so many patients do choose this approach.

Is a bridge better than an implant?

Andrea Galick

Andrea Galick is an accomplished Dental Hygienist (RDH) with a passion for helping patients achieve optimal oral health. Andrea has built a reputation as a caring and skilled practitioner who puts her patients at ease and provides individualized care that meets their unique needs.


North York Smile Centre
5 Park Home Ave #130,
North York,
ON M2N 6L4