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What is a dental bridge? Tooth gaps are always an annoying and potentially unaesthetic matter – especially when a patient has to deal with multiple of them at once! In order to correct the visual and functional inconveniences caused by up to four missing teeth, many dentists recommend the use of so-called dental bridges. These...
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What is a dental bridge?

Tooth gaps are always an annoying and potentially unaesthetic matter – especially when a patient has to deal with multiple of them at once!

In order to correct the visual and functional inconveniences caused by up to four missing teeth, many dentists recommend the use of so-called dental bridges. These medical devices can either be removable or permanently integrated in the oral cavity of a patient. In cases when dental bridges are used in the front part of a patient’s mouth (i.e., in the visible part of the mouth) they are usually made from plastic or ceramic material in order to emulate the white color of and blend in with the surrounding healthy teeth. The goal of a dental bridge is the preservation of a patient’s ability to chew properly by closing any existing tooth gaps that could lead to malpositioning of the surrounding teeth (as healthy teeth may “wander” into the empty areas created by the missing teeth). Additionally, the longer-term absence of several teeth may lead to excessive pressure on the remaining healthy teeth and gums and thereby cause more dental problems in the future if left unaddressed. Modern dental bridges consist of three crucial components:

Pillar Teeth (also called Anchor Teeth) – Healthy teeth capped with dental crowns or dental implants that serve as supporting “pillars” for the dental bridge

Dental Bridge Links – Levitating pieces of a dental bridge (located between the pillar teeth) that are situated above tooth gaps and that replace missing teeth

Dental Bridge Anchor – Connector pieces between dental bridge links and pillar teeth that are attached to the capped pillar teeth

In general, dental bridges are a durable and long-lasting form of tooth replacement and can last between 5 and 30 years.

When do I need a dental bridge?

Dental bridges are very solid solutions for patients who seek to replace one or more lost teeth (i.e., tooth gaps) but who are not too keen on other potential tooth replacement alternatives (e.g., dental implants). However, before making a definitive choice in favor of a dental bridge, a patient should consider the following key factors:

Removal of healthy Enamel (Tooth Substance) – To fix a dental bridge, a dentist must place dental crowns onto two healthy teeth that will then serve as “pillars” to hold the bridge in place, which results in the destruction/removal of a significant amount of completely healthy tooth substance. 

Increased Stress on Pillar Teeth – Potential pillar teeth need to first pass a stability test before being selected and used for holding a dental bridge in place to make sure that they can endure the additional chewing pressure placed on them.

Bone Atrophy – A key drawback associated with a dental bridge versus a dental implant is bone atrophy which occurs under the bridge links because they do not lie directly on the gum line and, hence, do not exert pressure on the jawbone below it. 

How much does a dental bridge cost?

The exact costs of a dental bridge are variable and depend heavily on the bridge span (number of replaced teeth), the material (e.g., gold, titanium, plastic, ceramic), and the location of the dental bridge.

Irrespective of the number of teeth that need to be “bridged” (i.e., replaced), the costs associated with preparing the pillar teeth remain the same – only the costs stemming from the manufacture of the dental bridge links vary depending on their number. State insurers only provide a set reimbursement amount that covers part of the total cost and that varies with the number of bridge links. Depending on the material used and the span of the dental bridge, patients should expect to face an out-of-pocket expense ranging from € 500 up to € 3,000 or even more.

Should a patient have more than four tooth gaps that he or she intends to fill, standard care practices recommend a removable prosthesis or denture instead of a dental bridge.

We hope that you found this primer helpful and invite you to take a look at our related blog post for more information.

All the Best & see you soon, Ace!

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