What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a replacement for one or more missing teeth. Sometimes called a fixed partial denture by dentists, a dental bridge is typically defined by two main characteristics. First, a dental bridge is fixed. It’s bonded or screwed in place so it can function properly for biting, chewing, and speaking. This also means that it’s always in place when you smile. Second, a dental bridge replaces some number of teeth, but not a full arch of teeth.

There are two main types of dental bridges in use today: tooth-supported and implant-supported bridges. A tooth-supported dental bridge uses one or more natural teeth to support one or more replacement teeth, called pontics. A pontic only replaces the visible portion of the tooth–it has no root. Usually, this type of bridge uses dental crowns that go over the natural teeth for support. In the past, dentists made this type of bridge in numerous combinations to use large numbers of natural teeth to support large numbers of replacement teeth. Now, with dental implants offering a better tooth replacement option, we typically use a dental bridge that is one pontic supported by two natural teeth.

An implant-supported bridge uses two or more dental implants to support two or more replacement teeth. An implant-supported bridge has an implant-supported dental crown on either end and in between there may be one or more pontics. Sometimes a large implant-supported bridge may have additional crowns in the middle supported by dental implants for greater stability.

Properly designed, placed, and maintained, we expect most dental bridges to last 10-15 years, and some can last much longer.

Tooth-Supported Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants

Although dental implants have replaced dental bridges in many circumstances, there are still times when a dental bridge makes the most sense.

We might recommend a tooth-supported dental bridge when:

  • You have healthy teeth on either side of a missing tooth
  • Your neighboring teeth might benefit from dental crowns
  • You don’t want or aren’t a good candidate for implant surgery
  • You don’t want or aren’t a good candidate for implant surgery
  • Your neighboring teeth might benefit from dental crowns
  • You have healthy teeth on either side of a missing tooth

A tooth-supported dental bridge depends on healthy natural teeth to support it. We won’t recommend this approach if you don’t have teeth with good, healthy roots on either side of the missing tooth. At the same time, it’s best if the supporting teeth are a little damaged, such as by decay or wear, and might benefit from dental crowns. We would rather not put dental crowns on teeth that don’t need them, so if these teeth are perfectly healthy, we might recommend a dental implant that doesn’t require crowns on these healthy teeth.

A tooth-supported dental bridge is a great tooth replacement option for people who don’t want implant surgery or who aren’t a good candidate for surgery. It lets you get a fully fixed, functional replacement tooth without surgery.

Man smiling after his Dental Bridges treatment

Why Choose a Prosthodontist for Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a powerful tool for replacing missing teeth. When properly designed and placed, a dental bridge gives you fully functional replacement teeth that let you bite and chew normally. These replacement teeth look like natural teeth, and no one needs to know that you have lost teeth.

A prosthodontist is a specialist with dedicated training focused on every aspect of dental bridges. They know how to select a functional and attractive material for your dental bridge. This helps ensure that your bridge gives you the cosmetic results you desire and great durability for long-lasting functionality. A prosthodontist also understands the complex fitting process to ensure you get a comfortable bite with balanced forces. You’ll be able to chew effectively, and your bridge won’t damage your teeth or vice versa.

In addition to our training and experience, the prosthodontists at South Bay Prosthodontics use Precise Implants Capture (PIC) to ensure all our restorations fit precisely over dental implants and soft and hard tissue. This advanced tool helps them make optimal implant-supported dental bridges.

Our prosthodontists don’t try to do the entire implant procedure. We focus on our specialist area, and we work closely with other specialists like periodontists and oral surgeons, and we welcome referrals.

Looking for a Dental Bridge in Torrance, CA?

If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge can be an ideal solution. Supported by either your natural teeth or dental implants, a bridge lets you bite and chew normally, speak clearly, and smile with confidence.

To see how the prosthodontists at South Bay Prosthodontics can help you, please call (310) 378-9261 today for an appointment at our Torrance, CA, dental office.