Why would I need a bridge
Usually because you have had a tooth extracted or knocked out in an accident, leaving you with a gap in your teeth. Closing the space is important for cosmetic reasons, but your dentist has good clinical reasons to fill in the space, too: leaving the gap open can put extra strain on the teeth either side.

It can also affect your "bite" ‚ the teeth on either side of the gap may lean together into the space and alter the way that the upper and lower teeth meet; which can cause further problems.
What different types of bridge are there?
There are two basic types of bridge that your dentist might recommend:

A conventional bridge: your dentist makes a conventional bridge by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the gap (sometimes only one is needed). These crowns (called "retainers") are joined to and used to support replacement teeth (called "pontics") that fill in the space.

A Maryland bridge: your dentist doesn’t need to use crowns to support a Maryland bridge. A cast metal wing is used to support the pontic instead. The dentist simply bonds the wing to the back of one of the teeth next to the gap. Maryland bridges are good because only a little material is removed from one of the teeth next to the gap. However, they are not as strong as conventional bridges and are only suitable for smaller gaps toward the front of the mouth. Also, if the teeth either side of the gap are in a poor condition, the dentist may advise that a Maryland bridge is not appropriate.

The retainers and the pontics of bridges can be made from a number of different materials, just as individual crowns can. Your dentist will recommend the best type of material for your bridge.
How long does a bridge last?
A dental bridge should last for many years. We are confident of the quality of our bridges so we guarantee them for the first year.
What does a bridge cost?
Private conventional bridges cost from £440.00 per unit (number of teeth) and Maryland bridges cost from £800.00.
How does the dentist make a bridge?
If you are having a conventional dental bridge, your dentist will prepare the teeth either side of the gap for crowns. For a Maryland bridge, your dentist will remove a little of the back surface of one of the teeth beside the gap. Once the teeth have been prepared, your dentist will take an "impression" (i.e. make a mould) of your teeth and take a measurement of how you bite together.

Your dentist will also record the shade of the adjacent teeth so that the bridge (note not a metal bridge) is an exact match. Often, your dentist will make you a temporary bridge so that you don’t have a large gap while you are waiting for the new bridge to be fitted.
Will the dentist use anaesthetic?
In most cases it isn't necessary to have an anaesthetic for a Maryland bridge. It is usually necessary for a conventional bridge, unless the tooth or teeth being used for the retainers have already had root canal treatment. Your dentist will let you know before work begins whether you need anaesthetic and, if you do, will anaesthetise the teeth before working on them so that you don’t feel anything.
What happens next?
The impression, bite measurements and shade information are passed to a specialist dental laboratory. The laboratory makes a model of your mouth. The bridge will be carefully constructed on this to ensure that it fits in perfectly. About a week or two after your first appointment your dentist will see you for a second time to check that your new bridge is a good fit and that the shade is a good match for your other teeth.

The bridge is then fixed in place using special bonding agents. NB: you will need to use special dental floss to clean under and around your bridge after it is fitted. Your dentist will explain how to do this.
Are there any alternatives to bridges?
Yes. Partial dentures and implants can sometimes be used. Partial dentures are sometimes better where there are lots of gaps or where the gaps are very large. A partial denture may also be more suitable if the teeth either side of the gap are not strong enough to support a bridge. Partial dentures are usually an economical option, too.

Implants may be a possibility in certain cases: they involve placing metal screws into the jawbone to support a crown or bridge. The main drawback is that implants are usually the most expensive option, at least in the short term, however the major advantage is that they avoid cutting into healthy teeth.