Replacing a missing tooth that has left a gap in between two healthy teeth can be accomplished with a bridge. See a realistic bridge in action.
A Bridge is like a crown, but replaces multiple teeth.
Crowning the teeth on either side of a space and then making a “floating” replacement tooth that makes it look like that tooth was always there. If an implant is not an option, a bridge is the only other “fixed” (something you don’t take in and out) restoration option to fill a hole in your smile.
How long a bridge lasts depends heavily on how well it is cared for (how clean it is kept). There are a lot of different types of materials and designs a bridge can have, so trying to give a single life span is quite challenging. One review1 looking at 2,738 three unit bridges (replacing only one tooth, supported by two other teeth or implants) reported that about 3% of the bridges failed per every year they are in service. Another review2 showed a 5 year success rate of 88.6% (at 5 years, almost 12% of bridges failed). Keeping a bridge clean through diligent oral hygiene and regular professional dental cleanings and exams is vital to giving a bridge a fighting chance of lasting long term.
- Pol CWP et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 3-unit fixed dental prostheses: Are the results of 2 abutment implants comparable to the results of 2 abutment teeth? J Oral Rehabil. 2017 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/joor.12575.
- Sailer I et al. A systematic review of the survival and complication rates of all-ceramic and metal-ceramic reconstructions after an observation period of at least 3 years. Part II: Fixed dental prostheses. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2007 Jun;18 Suppl 3:86-96.
If the bridge is replacing a tooth/teeth that has been missing for a long time, one visit will be needed to prepare the teeth for the bridge, take an impression of the supporting teeth, and make a temporary bridge (maybe link to temporary blog post – “more on temporaries here”). A second visit (generally 7-10 working days later) will be needed to deliver the final bridge (made in a laboratory by skilled technicians with exacting precision). If a tooth has broken and needs to be removed, this tooth will need to be removed and allow healing before the final bridge is made, which generally requires about 8 weeks. However, a temporary bridge can usually be made the same day a tooth is removed, so you don’t have to go any length of time without a tooth in place.
A bridge comes with the same risk of potential sensitivity or nerve problems that a crown has, but since it involves more than one tooth the chances of a problem arising is greater. One major cause of this is the fact that since a bridge is generally one solid piece, you cannot floss in between the teeth, requiring special floss such as floss threaders or superfloss to keep them clean. Decay can form on the teeth supporting the bridge which can in turn cause infection. One study* found that teeth supporting bridges were about twice as likely (30% of the time) to have a nerve go bad compared to that of a single tooth crown (15% of the time). Bridges can also chip and break, but if so they can be replaced more readily if the supporting teeth are not decayed or infected. Diligent daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are required to maximize the life of a bridge.
* Cheung GS et al. Fate of vital pulps beneath a metal-ceramic crown or a bridge retainer. Int Endod J. 2005 Aug;38(8):521-30.
|Tooth Type||UCR Fee||In Office Benefits Plan fee (25% off)|
|3 Tooth Ceramic Bridge||$3043||$2,282.25|
* Fees shown here are for a 3 tooth bridge (replacing one tooth, supported by two others) only and does not include core fillings, exams, or anxiety control services. Firm treatment estimates can only be done after an in-office evaluation. Fees shown do not apply if you have dental insurance, in which case an exam must be done and benefits verified prior to estimates being given.