Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures 3: How Do Dental Bridges Work

by | Dec 13, 2021 | Resources

If you have a missing tooth, a dental bridge can help restore the function and look of your teeth. But you may have questions about getting dental bridges. We aim to help answer these questions before you consider getting a dental bridge to restore your missing tooth. We go through some questions you may ask if you are considering dental bridges, including how dental bridges work and what dental bridges are. 

What Are Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges are artificial teeth that can be used to fill a gap where a missing tooth is. A bridge usually has crowns on either side of the missing tooth (known as “abutments” and a false tooth (or “pontic”) to fill the gap. These parts together form the bridge and are cemented onto the abutment teeth. This crowns the adjacent teeth and restores the gap functionally and aesthetically. 

What Types of Dental Bridges Are Available?

Many types of dental bridges exist. The most common dental bridges are:

Traditional Dental Bridge

A traditional fixed bridge connects abutments to a false tooth. Crowns placed on adjacent teeth support the bridge on either side of the gap in the mouth. The traditional bridge is the most common bridge, made typically from porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. 

This bridge replaces a missing tooth when strong teeth on either side can support a bridge between the teeth. The supporting teeth will need reshaping and fitting with crowns before the dentist can place the bridge. The reshaping and crown fitting allows the forces applied to the bridge when eating to be distributed across the whole bridge.

Cantilever Dental Bridge

Dentists use cantilever bridges to replace smaller teeth (they are not usually used to replace missing molars) when there is only one suitable tooth next to the gap left by the missing tooth. The other tooth may not be ideal because it is weak or already supporting a false tooth on the other side.

When installing a cantilever bridge, a larger tooth than the one being replaced is usually used as the abutment tooth. The dentist will use either porcelain fused to metal or full ceramic to make the bridge. The preparation and placement of the cantilever dental bridge must be done carefully to reduce destabilising or overloading the abutment teeth.

Maryland Dental Bridge

Dentists can use Maryland bridges to replace front teeth. These bridges have less preparation to the adjacent teeth than other bridge types. Wings extend from the false tooth to the adjacent teeth and are bonded onto the back of the adjacent teeth with only minimal or no preparation. They, too, can be porcelain fused to metal or all ceramic.

A benefit of a Maryland bridge is this bridge is a more conservative treatment compared to traditional fixed bridges, as the Maryland bridge does not require the adjacent teeth to have full crown preparations. 

Implant-Supported Bridge

An implant-supported bridge is used when there are multiple missing teeth. Instead of using implants to replace the missing teeth individually, the middle tooth/teeth are supported by implants placed at the edge of the gap or at intervals across the gap if multiple teeth are missing. These can often span larger gaps than conventional bridges, with extra implants being added to extend the bridge span,

When Do You Need Dental Bridges?

You may need dental bridges if you have problems with having lost a tooth from an injury, fracture or tooth decay. A dentist will discuss all your treatment options with you. They may recommend bridges over implants if the adjacent teeth require crowning or if you cannot have an implant at the site for medical or other dental reasons.

How Do Dental Bridges Work?

First, the dentist examines your mouth to ensure any tooth decay or gum disease is not present. The dentist usually takes an x-ray to check the bone and health of the teeth to be used for the bridge abutments. Depending on the bridge type, the dentist may remove enamel or reshape the abutment teeth on either side of the gap before they take a mould of the teeth. This mould gets sent to a lab where your custom bridge is made. You may have a temporary bridge during this time. 

Finally, according to bridge type, the dentist will use dental cement to attach the bridge to the adjacent teeth or anchor the bridge to a dental implant.

How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?

Dental bridges generally last from five to fifteen years, depending on how you take care of your teeth and bridge. Good oral hygiene and regular checkups can help your bridge last longer.


Getting a bridge can help restore your ability to eat, talk, communicate and smile especially if it replaces a missing front tooth. It is essential to speak with your dentist about restoring a missing tooth, possibly with a bridge or one of the many other options available. If you want to know how dental bridges work and are ready to explore your dental options, please contact the professionals at Beaches Dental Mona Vale today.