What is a bridge?

Also called a “fixed bridge” or a “fixed dental prosthesis”, a bridge is a dental restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth. It extends across an area that has no teeth and is typically made of an artificial tooth fused between 2 crowns*.  *A crown is a hollow, artificial tooth covering that fits over a natural tooth or a dental implant.  The bridge is held firmly in place by your own natural teeth on each side of the missing one(s) or by dental implants. A bridge is permanent and cannot be removed.




A bridge can restore your smile.

A gap in your smile may make you feel self-conscious or unattractive. You may feel tempted to cover up your mouth when you laugh or to always smile with your mouth closed in pictures. You might worry what other people think of it, especially in certain situations (job interviews, first dates, etc.). By perfectly replicating your natural teeth, a bridge can restore your beautiful smile – and perhaps your confidence as well.

A bridge can prevent teeth from drifting and improve the alignment of your bite.

Gaps left by missing teeth sometimes cause the surrounding natural teeth to shift, which can result in a bad dental occlusion (bite). By offering support, bridges prevent the adjacent teeth from moving and forming a bad bite. In addition, by filling the gap with a false tooth, a bridge can ensure that the force of your bite is distributed properly.

A bridge can help maintain the shape of your face.

Your teeth don’t just help you chew; they also support other bone structures in your face as well as your skin and facial muscles. If you’re missing teeth, the supporting structures of your face may shift. This can change the shape of your face (especially your jaw), making your skin sag and your bones appear less defined.

A bridge can restore your ability to chew and speak properly.

Depending on which tooth or teeth you’ve lost, chewing can be quite difficult with a gap. Some teeth also have an impact on how you speak (the front teeth in particular), so you may have a lisp or another speech impediment due to your tooth loss. A bridge can remedy these issues, functioning just as a natural tooth would.



Types of bridges

There are different types of dental bridges; your dentist will recommend the most appropriate one depending on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth) and the condition of your teeth, mouth, and gums.


Traditional bridges are used if there are natural teeth on each side of the gap where the tooth is missing.

NB: As an alternative to a bridge, your dentist may suggest a single implant to replace a missing tooth between 2 healthy teeth. An implant will prevent you from having to get your healthy teeth filed down in preparation for the crowns.

With a traditional bridge, healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth are prepared for crowns.
The custom-made artificial tooth is fused to 2 crowns. This is called a bridge.
bridge is permanent and cannot be removed.



Implant bridges are used if you don’t have healthy teeth or enough teeth to support a bridge, or when several or all teeth are missing. A custom-made bridge is anchored to the dental implants. Your dentist will first determine if dental implants are right for you.

With an implant bridge, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone.
A custom-made bridge is anchored to the dental implants.
Implant bridges can be used when all your teeth are missing.


Maryland bridges (resin-bonded bridges) are used when the missing teeth are in the front of the mouth. This type of bridge involves the artificial teeth being fused together to metal bands and cemented to the back of your natural teeth.





Cantilever bridges are used when there are healthy teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. This procedure involves anchoring the artificial tooth over one or more of your natural adjacent teeth.

The procedure

A dental bridge procedure typically requires two dental appointments.

First appointment

Your dentist will already have examined your teeth and discussed the treatment plan with you. If you have healthy teeth on each side of a missing tooth (or teeth), your dentist prepares the 2 healthy teeth by shaping them to accommodate crowns. If you don’t have healthy teeth or enough teeth to support a bridge, then dental implants may be surgically placed. A dental implant is an artificial root made of titanium metal that is inserted into the jawbone to replace the root of the natural tooth. The implant acts as an anchor to hold an artificial tooth or bridge in place.

Next, your dentist makes a model of your teeth by taking impressions. The model is used to custom-make the artificial tooth (or teeth) and the 2 crowns, all as one piece called a “bridge”.

Meanwhile, your dentist places a temporary bridge in your mouth to protect the exposed teeth and gums.

Second appointment

Your dentist removes the temporary bridge and the permanent custom-made bridge is placed in your mouth. The crowns are either cemented to your 2 healthy teeth or attached to your dental implants on each side of the missing tooth (or teeth). This ensures that the bridge is strong, sturdy, and won’t budge while you’re eating, talking, and going about your daily life.


Caring for your bridge

If you take good care of your bridge, it generally should last for about 10 years, or perhaps longer. Like natural teeth, bridges need to be brushed and flossed every day. Your dentist will show you how to use a floss threader to floss under and around the artificial tooth (or teeth) in the middle of the bridge. For implant bridges, your dentist will show you how to properly care for them. Regular dental visits and professional cleanings are an important part of your dental care and will help you extend the life of your bridge.