The Difference Between Dental Bridges

Notice the More Conservative Use of Materials, Which preserves Surrounding Teeth

What’s a dental bridge? It’s a single unit that replaces one or more missing teeth by attaching a prosthetic to teeth adjacent to the missing tooth (or teeth). Pretty simple right? You’re missing a tooth, so you put in a bridge. End of story. Right…..?

Well, not exactly. Not all bridges are made the same. Some are made from noble metals (like gold), some are made from “silver” metals, some are made from metal with white porcelain fused on top (these are the most common currently), and some are biocompatible and completely metal free.

Then there’s the “construction” type. Do the attachments act like crowns and completely cover the adjacent teeth? Does the dentist cut away a large portion of healthy teeth on either side in order to place a bridge? Are there more conservative bridges that conserve more teeth? The answer is “yes” to all of the above.

Choosing the Right Bridge for You:

At The Center for Natural Dentistry in Encinitas, we only place metal-free, biocompatible bridges. We are a holistic dental practice in San Diego County, and our focus is on doing work that’s good for your mouth and your body. That means that we always strive to create the strongest, most conservative bridges possible. In most cases, this results in a biocompatible onlay bridge or inlay bridge. While metal bridges are certainly strong, they can actually be too strong, causing the tooth to weaken under the bridge and eventually leading to the loos of the tooth (does this pattern sound familiar: You have a cavity, fill it with an amalgam filling. Decay forms around the filling. Filling is redone. More decay. Root Canal. Root Canal fails, so you get a crown. Crown fails, so you have the tooth pulled and get a metal bridge. Teeth holding the bridge decay and need to be pulled. Metal dentures replace the missing teeth. Metal often causes future dental problems and can sometimes lead to other systemic and acute health problems).

So what’s the answer? A bridge that is strong, forgiving, esthetically pleasing, metal-free, and doesn’t unnecessarily and expressively remove healthy teeth.

That’s exactly what we do at our Encinitas holistic dental practice. We make strong, metal-free onlay and inlay bridges that conserve surrounding teeth because they require less material to anchor the bridge in. We make some of these bridges in a high-quality laboratory and some on our Cerec machine on the office. The result is less healthy tooth loss and a long-lasting, strong, biocompatible bridge.

So if inlay and onlay bridges are better, why do they sometimes cost more? Well, there are a variety of factors that go into the cost of a bridge. Materials used is a large part of it. The difficulty in properly placing a bridge so it will last and won’t create decay in the adjacent teeth is also part of it. The amount of skill and experience required to place an inlay bridge is often higher than that for a traditional bridge. As the old saying goes: you get what you pay for. If you want a bridge that will last a long time, will create a solid biting surface, won’t do necessary damage to the adjacent teeth, won’t cause harm to your overall health, and looks natural in your mouth (both along the gumline and in in conjunction with the surrounding teeth), then this is probably the type of bridge you are looking for.

Some pictures are below to illustrate exactly what an inlay bridge. This is one of the biocompatible inlay bridges made at our Encinitas holistic dental practice.

Notice the More Conservative Use of Materials, Which preserves Surrounding Teeth

This picture shows how much tooth structure is removed for this bridge. Traditional bridges would completely cover the adjacent teeth.

Biocompatible Bridge Placed on Model

With the Bridge place on the model, you can clearly see how muach tooth structure is saved with this type of bridge

In this picture you can see exactly what the final inlay bridge looks like when placed in a patient's mouth.



  1. Dental Bridges main advantages is it looks like a perfect and permanent teeth that will last for more than 15 years. Provided the proper care and good oral hygiene is observe by the person wearing it.

  2. dental bridges in encinitas Says: May 24, 2011 at 12:48 am

    There are several different types of dental bridges and although each type serves the same purpose (of bridging the gap between teeth were a tooth is missing), the condition of a patient’s existing teeth will largely determine the sort of bridge that will best suit them.

    The different types of dental bridges are divided into three categories: traditional fixed bridges, bonded bridges and cantilever bridges.

    The majority of people with bridges have traditional fixed bridges. With this type of bridge a false (or pontic) tooth is anchored in the mouth with two crowns that are attached to the two natural teeth on either side of the space where the bridge will go. When this type of bridge is inserted the surrounding natural teeth usually have to be sculpted and reduced in size a bit to make room for the crown and bridge. The two crowns and the false tooth are bonded together into one unit and then the combination is affixed in the patient’s mouth. As their name would indicate, the fixed bridge is permanent and cannot be removed once it is anchored into place. Fixed bridges can work well for people with filings because existing filings can actually be used as foundation for the crowns that are placed on the patient’s natural teeth.

    Bonded bridges (or resin bonded bridges) are usually less expensive than fixed bridges, but unfortunately they are not for everybody. This type of bridge is usually only offered to patients who have healthy, well-maintained teeth surrounding the area where the bridge is to be inserted. Bonded bridges are not usually offered to people with weak, unhealthy teeth, or people whose surrounding (or abutment) teeth have large fillings in them. Bonded bridges are also more likely to be affixed in areas that aren’t stressed when a person is eating. This type of bridge is popular for replacing missing front teeth. With bonded bridges the false (or pontic) replacement tooth is attached with metal bands or wings and resin cement to the two surrounding natural teeth. Some people prefer this type of bridge because it requires less work being done on the surrounding teeth.

    Like bonded bridges cantilever bridges are also typically used on the front teeth and in areas in the mouth that aren’t stressed when a person is chewing. These bridges are usually used when a person has a natural tooth only on one side of the space where the bridge will sit, instead of on both sides. Unlike other bridges, which need to be attached to both surrounding teeth, cantilever bridges are designed to adhere just to one side on the natural tooth or teeth to the left or to the right of where the false tooth will sit.

    Before investing in bridges talk to a dental expert about which type of dental bridge will give you the longest lasting and most natural result and fit best with the rest of your teeth.

    • That’s a good, in-depth description on bridges. You’ve left out the part that matters most to our patients, though: the health effects of the different types of bridges. Bridges are all-too-often designed to outlast the teeth with little to no regard for the overall wellness of the patient. What materials work best with your body? What materials may cause some sort of health reaction? How will the surrounding teeth react to the stress placed on them from the bridge?

      Bridges serve a great purpose in dentistry and I still believe they are often the best method for replacing a missing tooth, but we need to take the bigger picture into account, as well: how will this bridge affect the patient’s overall health? If the answer is unknown, we need to look deeper. If the answer is that it will cause an adverse reaction, then we need to look at other options.

  3. Hi. I have a question for you please Dr. Marvin. I’m not sure if this will be posted in the right spot because I couldn’t figure out how to post a comment under a fresh topic. I live in Los Angeles and am about to go to San Francisco next week to have my only root canal removed and a ceramic implant put in, hopefully all in one visit. It is the FDA approved one. I know for sure I do not want a bridge and only want the ceramic implant. I would like to ask you two things. I have an appointment to do everything on the first visit if it’s possible since it’s in SF. The dentist mentioned that she’ll see that day but that I might need a bone graft and that she prefers cow bone. I am VERY holistic and also have been a long time vegan. What is your opinion on bone grafts and do you think one is needed after a root canal is removed. Also, if you say it may be needed then which would you say is the healthiest choice? I’m worried that she may say I need one when maybe I really do not. The tooth is my lower molar, 3rd one in. I think it’s # 20. Lastly, do you currently have as of July 22, 2010 when I am posting this, the FDA approved ceramic implants available? I would much rather go to you. I am really ready to do this and so wouldn’t want to wait months. Thank you kindly for your time and your help!

    • how did your implant work out? I’m considering removing the root canal I had on tooth #30 to do the same.. Thank you!

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