Need A Dental Bridge? Understand Your Options Before Purchasing

A dental bridge can make all the difference between a brilliant smile and an embarrassingly toothless one. The replacement of a tooth, or even several teeth, with a bridge can enhance your appearance while also restoring your ability to chew. Selecting the right kind of dental bridge for your specific situation, however, isn't always as straightforward a process as you might assume. Here are three primary considerations you'll need to discuss with a professional who provides dental bridge services.

1. Permanent vs. Removable Bridges

Do you want a permanent (fixed) dental bridge, or would you be better off with a removable one? Some people have this choice made for them by the location of their missing teeth. If, for instance, you're missing teeth on both side of your upper or lower dental arch, you'd be better off with a removable bridge supported by a metal base. That's because a single such device can sit over an entire row of teeth, accommodating your remaining teeth while filling the odd gap and here and there. (You would need multiple permanent bridges to achieve the same result.) If you struggle with periodontal disease, you'll find that removable bridges allow for easier dental hygiene than permanent bridges. But if you want artificial teeth that feel as comfortable and natural as possible, a permanent bridge is the way to go.

2. Looks and Strength

The material you choose for your dental bridge will have a major impact on its cosmetic appeal and durability. A bridge of porcelain "teeth" fused to a metal base will yield strong, long-lasting results, which is why this kind of bridge often serves to replace missing molars. Unfortunately, the metal base can create unattractive discoloration at the gum line. An all-porcelain bridge will allow you to avoid these cosmetic defects but at the cost of some of the bridge's strength. The strongest, most natural-looking choice of all is a zirconium bridge. Zirconium mimics the color and translucency of real teeth without the telltale metal base. 

3. Cost

The amount of money you'll pay for a dental bridge depends both on the bridge type and on the materials used. A traditional permanent bridge will typically cost between $2,000 and $5,000, not counting the cost of the crowns needed to affix the bridge to your remaining teeth. Zirconium will push your cost to the high end of the range compared to porcelain or porcelain-on-metal. Since a traditional bridge usually lasts about 10 years, you'll want to factor the occasional cost of replacement into your budget. If you're willing to spend considerably more up front (to the tune of thousands of dollars per tooth), you might consider getting a dental implant instead. These devices can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth permanently, with no anticipated need for replacement.

Dental bridges can truly give you something to smile about, but you'll be smiling that much wider if you know you chose the right product for your specific needs. Ask your dentist to help you select the optimal combination of dental bridge services. Learn more about dental bridges by speaking with a dental professional.