Filling the Gap: The 4 Types of Dental Bridges

Your options for replacing a natural tooth that is decayed or missing include four types of dental bridges.

Many American adults are missing at least one permanent tooth. Fortunately, there are several options for filling in space, so to speak, with a false tooth—called a pontic—that is most commonly made of porcelain, gold, or an alloy.

Your options for replacing a natural tooth that is decayed or missing include four types of dental bridges, which quite literally bridge the gap created in your mouth.

1. Traditional Dental Bridges

The most common variety used today, traditional dental bridges are held in place by dental crowns adhered to the adjacent natural teeth, also known as the anchoring or abutment teeth. The anchoring teeth are prepared by having the enamel removed. Then, a set of crowns with a pontic between them are cemented on top, which offers protection and makes the bridge fairly secure.

2. Cantilever Bridges 

Similar to traditional bridges, cantilever bridges differ in that they are secured to only one natural tooth. Other than that, they are applied in much the same way. The enamel is removed from the abutment tooth and it is topped with a crown. While the necessity of only one adjacent natural tooth makes this option versatile, the bridge can not withstand as much biting force and is not recommended for the back of the mouth.

3. Maryland Bridges

Rather than using dental crowns placed on top of adjacent teeth, Maryland bridges are comprised of a metal or porcelain framework containing a pontic. The device is bonded with resin onto the backs of the two abutment teeth. While the framework can be a nuisance at first, a benefit of this option is the natural teeth do not have to be filed or have their enamel removed.

4. Implant-Supported Bridges

The only real difference with this variety is the bridges are supported by dental implants, rather than frameworks or crowns attached to natural teeth, making them particularly strong and secure. The pontic is still suspended between the two implant-supported crowns. If you choose this option, you will undergo two surgeries. The first involves embedding the implants into your jawbone, with one implant for each missing tooth, and the second surgery places the bridge, meaning the whole process could take several months to complete.

Which type of dental bridge your dentist recommends could depend on a variety of factors, including the location in your mouth of the missing tooth and the health of the surrounding teeth. Fortunately, however, you have several options for replacing missing teeth in a way that looks and feels natural and comfortable.

Contact our office if you believe you may be in need of a dental bridge.