One of the time-proven ways to replace a missing tooth is with a dental bridge. Also called a fixed bridge because it is cemented permanently in place, it consists of a false tooth or teeth that are permanently attached to the natural teeth on either side of the space. The false tooth replaces the missing tooth. Much like a bridge over a river, the false tooth “bridges” across the space left by the missing tooth and is held in place by the natural teeth on either side of the gap, called abutments.
Replacing your missing teeth with a dental bridge keeps your natural teeth from drifting into the gap, which can cause your bite to become unbalanced, leading to uneven wear of your remaining teeth. They can also support your remaining teeth, help you chew few and speak clearly, and support your cheek and lip muscles—preventing your jaw and lips from sagging.
But, without dental insurance, dental bridges can cost up to $1,500 per tooth.1 A bridge replacing one tooth and attached with two abutments can run up to $5,0002. Dental insurance can help you cover the costs of a dental bridge and replace missing teeth.
How much does a dental bridge cost with insurance?
Dental insurance plans may cover up to 50% of the cost of dental bridges, but you may have to wait six months to one year for services. Contact your dental insurance company for more information.
How Guardian Direct® insurance covers dental bridges
Guardian Direct® dental insurance can help with the cost of implants. Guardian Direct Dental Advantage Gold and Silver PPO plans cover 50% of implants after a 12-month waiting period. The Dental Advantage Silver plan has a lifetime maximum benefit on implants of $700, while the Dental Advantage Gold plan has a maximum benefit of $1,000.
What is a dental bridge?
When a dentist must pull a tooth, either due to decay, gum disease, or trauma, a gap is left between the other teeth. A fixed dental bridge consists of two parts: a false tooth, called a ponti” and attachments to the teeth on either side of the space, called abutments. The false tooth and the abutments are permanently fused together and, when placed in the mouth, they bridge the gap left by the missing tooth.
This false tooth can help restore your ability to chew, bite, and speak. Your dentist cements bridges permanently in your mouth and they do not move or slip when you are eating or speaking. You can laugh and talk with confidence.
Dental bridges can be made with several materials: gold, alloys, porcelain, and zirconia. Likewise, there are several types of bridge designs that you and your dentist can discuss before making a decision about the best design and materials to use in your unique situation.
What different types of dental bridges are available?
There are four basic types of dental bridges. The type your dentist recommends for you will depend on factors such as the health of your other teeth, the number of missing teeth that must be replaced, as well as insurance coverage and your personal budget.
Traditional dental bridges
Traditional dental bridges are the type that dentists have used for decades and have proven to be reliable and long-lasting.
These dental bridges consist of one or more false teeth (pontics) that are held in place and attached to crowns on either side of the gap (abutments). When the abutments are cemented onto the adjacent teeth, the pontic bridges the gap and supplies a stable, solid surface for chewing.
One drawback to traditional fixed dental bridges is the need to place crowns on the abutment teeth. Those teeth might be free of any decay or defect. Yet, crowning them is necessary to provide stability for the bridge. If you decide to get a different type of bridge later on, the abutment teeth will still need to be protected by crowns.
Unlike traditional bridges, cantilever bridges only use one abutment rather than two. This means that the abutment tooth bears all the forces during chewing. Therefore, the abutment tooth must be strong and able to bear the stress.
The downside of cantilever bridges is that the abutments sometime fracture or come loose, due to the amount of stress placed on it during chewing.
A more conservative type of bridge is the Maryland bridge. A metal bar or framework holds the false tooth in place. The framework bonds to the adjacent teeth. Your dentist does not have to crown the adjacent teeth, as with traditional and cantilever bridges.
Maryland bridges can come uncemented and do not function well in areas that receive a lot of force during eating, such as the molar areas. Some patients have problems with the bars and framework being uncomfortable and getting in the way of the gums and tongue.
Rather than attaching a false tooth to other teeth using crowns or bonding, implant-supported bridges attach directly to a dental implant.
An implant is much like a false tooth root that is embedded into the jawbone in the area where a tooth is missing. This type of implant is sturdy and as close to having the natural tooth back as you can get. Implant-supported bridges are also the most expensive. They require surgery to place the implant, several weeks or even months of healing, and specialized training by the dentist and her staff to perform the treatments. Sometimes, several implants are required to support a dental bridge that replaces more than one tooth.
Getting the treatment you need
Dental bridges can improve your smile, your ability to chew, your appearance, and your overall health. If you are missing one or more teeth, talk to your dentist about dental bridges and enroll in dental insurance to help you cover the costs.
Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.
This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.