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What is a dental bridge?

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a fixed device that replaces one or more missing teeth. Missing teeth can affect your ability to chew and talk and change the alignment of the teeth and shape of your face. Dental bridges prevent these problems by filling the gap in your smile with an artificial tooth attached to a permanent dental implant or the natural teeth next to it.

A dental bridge can be made of metal, porcelain or ceramic material, or a metal base with a porcelain or ceramic coating. A dental bridge is a permanent or fixed device. You cannot take it out of your mouth without help from your dentist. 

Placing a dental bridge is generally considered safe, but there are risks and potential complications A dental bridge is only one method used to replace missing teeth. Discuss all your treatment options with your dentist to understand which options are right for you.

Types of dental bridges

All types of dental bridges fill a space left by one or more missing teeth with an artificial tooth. The types of dental bridges that your dentist may use include:

  • Traditional bridges consist of an artificial tooth attached to two or more crowns. A dental crown is a fixed device that covers a tooth with a tooth-shaped cap. The crowns are placed over the teeth on both sides of the gap to support the artificial tooth. 
  • Cantilever bridges consist of an artificial tooth attached to one or more crowns on one side of the missing tooth. A dental crown is a fixed device that covers a tooth with a tooth-shaped cap. Cantilever bridges replace a missing tooth that has teeth on only one side of it.   
  • Maryland bridges consist of an artificial tooth that is bonded or cemented to natural teeth on either side of it with small metal or ceramic attachments. These attachments are shaped like wings. Maryland bridges are sometimes called Maryland bonded bridges, resin bonded bridges, or Encore bridges. Maryland bridges are typically used for front teeth because they create a more natural appearance. They are not as strong as other bridges and are not suited to replace teeth that do a lot of hard biting or chewing. 
Medical Reviewers: Nicole Holland DDS, MS Last Review Date: Mar 4, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Bridges. Colgate Oral Health and Dental Resource Center. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-a.... Accessed December 21, 2012.
  2. Bridges. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/bridges.aspx. Accessed December 21, 2012.
  3. Dental Bridges. The Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/devices/dental_care/hic_dental_bridges.aspx. Accessed December 21, 2012.
  4. Dental Implants vs. Fixed Dental Bridges. American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. http://www.aacd.com/index.php?module=cms&page=570. Accessed December 21, 2012.
  5. What are Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges? Colgate Oral Health and Dental Resource Center. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-a.... Accessed December 21, 2012.

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