Dental Bridges: Restoring Your Smile

A smile is often our most powerful and distinctive expression.

But when missing teeth become a part of the equation, that once confident and gleaming smile can be diminished, affecting our self-esteem and oral health.

Fortunately, in modern dentistry, there are various solutions available to bridge the gap and restore both the aesthetics and functionality of our smiles.

One such solution is the dental bridge, a reliable and longstanding option that many individuals have found to be a literal bridge back to their best smiles.

This article is your comprehensive guide to this dental marvel, discussing everything you need to know about dental bridges, from its types to the benefits, use cases, procedure, and beyond.

Table of Content

Key Takeaways

  • Dental bridges are replacements for missing teeth, anchored by crowns on surrounding teeth.
  • They come in various types, including traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported bridges.
  • Bridges offer restored aesthetics, improved chewing and speech, and prevent surrounding teeth from shifting.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth by bridging the gap between two natural teeth.

The bridge consists of dental crowns on the teeth on either side of the gap, with an artificial tooth (pontic) in between.

It can be an effective solution to enhance both the appearance of your smile and the normal function of your teeth.

Components of a Dental Bridge

  • Abutment teeth: These are the natural teeth that serve as the anchors for the bridge and are typically prepared by your dentist to receive crowns.
  • Pontic: This is the false tooth that fills the gap between the abutment teeth, restoring your bite and smile.

How They Work to Bridge the Gap

The dental bridge spans the area where the tooth is missing.

It is cemented to the natural teeth or implants on either side of the missing tooth.

These anchoring teeth, or abutments, will support the pontic, which is the replacement tooth that is custom-made to match your natural teeth.

Types of Dental Bridges

There are several types of dental bridges, and each serves a specific purpose depending on the location and condition of the missing teeth.

The main types include:

Traditional Fixed Bridge

A traditional fixed bridge is the most common type and consists of a pontic tooth attached to two abutment teeth.

The pontic is supported by crowns that are cemented onto the abutment teeth.

Cantilever Bridge

This type is used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth.

Instead of two crowns as on a traditional fixed bridge, a cantilever bridge has one or more crowns connected to one side of the pontic.

Maryland Bridge

Also known as a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland-bonded bridge, this type uses metal or porcelain wings on one side of the bridge that are bonded to the back of the abutment teeth.

Maryland bridges are generally less invasive because they don't require the removal of as much enamel as traditional bridges.

Implant-Supported Bridge

Instead of dental crowns, this type of bridge is supported by dental implants, which are surgically placed into the jawbone.

Implant-supported bridges tend to be the most stable and have the most natural-looking function and appearance.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

The benefits of dental bridges are significant, providing both functional and aesthetic improvements to your oral health.

Improved Chewing Ability and Speech

The presence of missing teeth can hinder proper speaking and eating.

Dental bridges restore the teeth's natural function, allowing one to chew properly and enunciate words clearly.

Restored Appearance and Smile

A dental bridge can give you back your smile, filling in unsightly gaps that may have made you self-conscious.

It also helps to maintain the natural shape of your face and prevents the remaining teeth from drifting out of position.

Prevents Further Oral Health Complications

When a tooth is missing, the surrounding teeth may begin to shift.

This can lead to a variety of dental problems, from that teeth tilting, which can alter the way your teeth come together in your smile, to a misaligned bite.

A dental bridge corrects this problem by filling the gap, ensuring that teeth remain in their proper place.

Use Cases for Dental Bridges

When a Single Tooth is Missing

A dental bridge can be used to replace a single missing tooth by anchoring a pontic tooth to the abutment teeth on either side of the gap.

When Multiple Teeth are Missing in a Row

In this case, a bridge can be custom made to replace multiple missing teeth, filling the entire gap and restoring your smile.

When Implants are Not Suitable

Some individuals may not be ideal candidates for dental implants, either due to jawbone health or personal preference.

In such scenarios, dental bridges offer a reliable alternative.

Dental Bridge Procedure

Understanding the dental bridge procedure can alleviate any potential concerns.

This section outlines the general process from initial consultation to post-procedure care.

Consultation and Planning

Your dentist will conduct a thorough examination, including X-rays, to determine if a bridge is the right treatment.

If it is, a treatment plan is created and the materials for your bridge are selected.

Preparation of Abutment Teeth

The abutment teeth need to be prepared to receive the dental crowns that will hold the bridge in place.

This may involve some reshaping of the teeth to fit the crowns.

Temporary Bridge Placement

A temporary bridge may be placed while the permanent bridge is being fabricated to protect the exposed teeth and gums.

Permanent Bridge Placement and Adjustment

Once the permanent bridge is ready, it is placed and adjusted to ensure a proper fit and bite.

The bridge is then cemented into place.

Risks and Considerations

Despite their benefits, dental bridges also entail certain risks and considerations, including:

Potential Complications

While the bridge placement procedure is routine, there are potential risks involved, including sensitivity, injury to the abutment teeth, and complications related to the use of anesthesia.

Long-Term Care and Maintenance

Regular dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing, is crucial for the longevity of your dental bridge.

Additionally, avoiding certain hard or sticky foods can prevent damage to the bridge.

Lifespan of a Dental Bridge

With proper care, a dental bridge can last for many years.

However, they may need to be replaced eventually due to normal wear and tear.

Cost Comparison with Dental Implants

The cost of a dental bridge is generally lower than that of dental implants, making it a more affordable option for some patients.

However, it's important to consider the long-term costs of maintenance and the potential need for replacement.


Dental bridges are a popular and reliable solution for those looking to replace missing teeth and restore their smile.

Whether it's for improved chewing function, speech, or aesthetics, bridges offer a bridge back to normalcy.

It's crucial to consult with a dentist to assess whether a dental bridge is the right option for you, considering your unique needs, preferences, and circumstances.

With an understanding of the procedure and the benefits offered, you're on your way to a healthier, more complete smile.

Dental Bridge FAQs

How long will a dental bridge last?

The lifespan of a dental bridge can vary depending on several factors, but on average, they last 5 to 15 years. With proper care and maintenance, some bridges can even last a lifetime.

What is the downside of a dental bridge?

While dental bridges restore smiles, they can weaken healthy teeth used for support as they need to be shaved down for crowns. Bridges also don't prevent bone loss in the jawbone under the missing tooth, unlike implants.

How many teeth do you need to hold a bridge?

The number of teeth needed for a bridge depends on its type. Traditional bridges, the most common kind, require two healthy teeth on either side of the gap to be crowned for support.

Are bridges better than implants?

The choice between bridges and implants depends on your situation. Bridges are generally less expensive and require no surgery, but they can damage healthy teeth and don't address bone loss. Implants are more durable, preserve jawbone health, and feel more natural, but they're costlier and require surgery with healing time. Discuss with your dentist to find the best option for you.