Dental bridges are fixed prosthetic devices used for covering the space of a missing tooth or a number of missing teeth. They are usually cemented to the adjacent teeth or implants so that they occupy the space or spaces where the missing tooth or teeth previously stood.

A dental crown is fitted as a cap on an old tooth that is decayed, broken or otherwise damaged, but it can be used to attach a bridge. Occasionally, it is necessary to surgically position a dental implant into the jaw bone before a bridge or replacement tooth can be mounted into that area. A dental implant is usually a titanium post and it has the advantage of not coming loose like a denture, apart from its tremendous aesthetic value.

Missing teeth leave gaps which can cause a shift in the remaining teeth. The teeth misalignment that results from this shift creates bad bite during mastication. In addition, the space created by lost teeth has aesthetic implications that may impact on the individual's self-esteem.

A dental bridge is one of the options for replacing these missing teeth. There are different types of dental bridges. The most common are the traditional dental bridges which are used when natural teeth are still standing on both sides of the gap.

These bridges are usually false teeth referred to as pontics, and they are secured into position by abutments or dental crowns which are previously inserted on top of the adjacent natural teeth to serve as anchor for the dental bridge. The dentist first prepares the adjacent natural teeth by removing their enamel to make way for their crowns.

If only one natural tooth is still standing adjacent to the gap created by the missing teeth, a cantilever bridge can be used to replace the missing teeth. The single adjacent natural tooth is prepared for a cantilever bridge in the same way as it is done for a natural bridge but the one-sided support provided by this restoration may make the arrangement less stable than the traditional bridge.

A conservative alternative is to use a bridge that utilises a metal or porcelain framework that can be attached to the back of the two teeth adjacent to the space. By doing so, it will not be necessary to remove the enamel of the adjacent two teeth, but the integrity of the bridge is limited by the strength of the resin that bonds it in place. For this reason, it may not be fitted in areas of the mouth where a lot of biting force is required.

A more secure arrangement is to have the bridges supported by dental implants instead of crowns and frameworks. Every missing tooth is replaced by an implant and the bridge is held in place by this series of implants. Although it takes more time to get the bridge into position, it feels more comfortable and looks more like natural tooth.