What Is a Dental Bridge?

close up of attractive woman smiling with straight white teeth
Author: ngoulds Posted: August 11th, 2020 Category:

Learn all about dental bridges — specialized crowns that fill in missing teeth and help maintain the alignment of your smile.

Teeth can fall out for a variety of reasons, but a missing tooth can lead to serious dental issues if not attended to. One way that you can have the gap in your smith fixed is by having a dental bridge installed. Bridges are sets of specially fitted crowns (called a “pontic”) that anchor onto either side of the missing tooth (or teeth) to maintain jaw shape and proper bite alignment. Pontics can be made from a number of materials, including metal, but many are crafted from porcelain to match the color and texture of your teeth. 

After you lose a tooth, the surrounding teeth may begin to lean into the vacant space, and teeth from your opposing jaw can actually start to shift into the space, as well. The changing shape of your bite can add stress and tension to your teeth, and can potentially damage your jaw. Drifting or moving teeth also become more difficult to clean, which can increase your chances of developing gum disease or tooth decay. 

However, a dental bridge helps to maintain the structure of your bite and prevent some of these concerns. Here’s how they work. 

Types of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges come in one of four types: traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported. 

Traditional dental bridges are essentially the structures described above: a false tooth or set of teeth that’s been cemented onto the surrounding (or “abutment”) teeth on either side. They’re the most common form of dental bridge. 

The key difference between traditional bridges and cantilever bridges is that the latter is only cemented onto one abutment tooth, rather than on both sides. Cantilever bridges are by nature less invasive and typically cost less than traditional bridges. 

Maryland dental bridges also make use of both abutment teeth. However, instead of using dental crowns to affix to the neighboring teeth, these bridges attach a metal or porcelain framework to the back of the abutment teeth to hold the bridge in place. 

Implant-supported dental bridges are the most stable but most involved option. As you might guess, these bridges forego attaching crowns to nearby teeth, and instead replace each missing tooth with a surgical implant. Two implant-supported dental crowns can also be used to support a more traditional bridge as well. While these bridges are the strongest, they require two surgeries — one to place the implants in the jaw, and a second to set the bridge — a process that can take months to fully complete. 

The Dental Bridge Procedure

Each type of dental bridge requires a slightly different procedure to install. Traditional bridges first require that the abutment teeth be ground down to remove decay, after which your dentist will take an impression of your mouth to design the proper fit of the bridge. Your dentist will set a temporary bridge to keep your teeth protected until the permanent bridge is ready to install.  The permanent bridge will be attached with a powerful adhesive.

Cantilever bridges also require temporary bridges, but only one abutment tooth needs a specialized crown. Maryland bridges need less preparation than traditional bridges, but both cantilever and Maryland bridges will need at least two appointments to fully set. For implant-supported bridges, your dentist will first set the implants in the jaw and then take an impression of your mouth to ensure that the bridge properly fits.

Your Denver-based Dental Health Specialists

If you’re looking for patient-centered dental care — including appointments for dental bridges — contact Espire today. We have multiple locations spread across the Denver area, each of which is staffed by expertly trained dental experts in an approachable and inviting space. Don’t wait to get started on making sure your smile is as bright as it can possibly be!