There are three main ways to replace missing teeth

  • Bridges
  • Removable partial dentures
  • Implants

Bridges fill the gap where a tooth or teeth have been lost. In this example, a three-unit bridge is replacing a missing tooth by using the teeth either side (abutment teeth) to support it.

They’re usually made from a metal base that’s coated in dental porcelain to make it look more natural.

What’s involved in having a bridge made?

A bridge is custom made to fit into the gap and over the nearby teeth by skilled dental technicians. In order for them to make the bridge, the adjacent teeth or tooth must be prepped by the dentist by:

  • Reducing and shaping the teeth to create a ‘core’ with an even space for the abutments of the bridge to fit over.
  • Taking an impression of the prepared teeth.
  • Taking an impression of the opposite arch to allow the laboratory to see how you bite together.
  • Recording the shade of the teeth so the technician can match the bridge to your existing teeth.

The impressions are then sent to the dental lab where they’re cast using a dental stone, which produces an exact replica of your teeth, including the prepared teeth.

How long does it take?

To prepare and fit a bridge usually takes two visits. One visit to prepare the teeth, make the impressions and match the shade, and one to fit the permanent bridge. Tooth prep for bridge work can take between 45-90 minutes, depending on the number of teeth involved.

Will it feel different?

If you had a space where a tooth/teeth were missing, it may feel very strange having a bridge in this space at first. But after the first week, this strange feeling will go away as you get used to having a bridge. It shouldn’t feel high or uncomfortable, but if you’re in any doubt please ask one of the dentists.

How long will the bridge last?

A bridge should last for many years but it depends on how well it’s looked after once fitted. Although the bridge itself can’t decay, the area where it meets the teeth that support it could. So close attention must be paid to this area when cleaning your teeth.


What are bridges made of?

Bridges are usually made of a precious metal base. If the bridge will show, porcelain is then bonded to the base. Sometimes, other non-precious metals can be used in the base to reduce the cost.

Why should I replace missing teeth?

Your appearance is obviously one important consideration. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can cause a greater strain on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your ‘bite’ is affected because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes decay and gum disease.

How do I care for my bridge?

You need to clean it every day to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. We’ll show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush won’t be able to reach.

Are there alternatives to a bridge?

There are indeed, including using a combination of crowns and partial dentures. You could also consider dental implants. We’ll discuss the relevant options at your consultation.

Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?

Yes, if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support.

How are missing teeth replaced?

This depends on the number of teeth missing and where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision.

There are two main ways to replace the missing teeth: the first is with a removable false tooth or teeth – a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.

Can I have a bridge fitted straight after having a tooth removed?

It can take up to 6 months for the gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means you may need a temporary denture for 6 months before the bridge is fitted.

Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?

Bridges are only possible if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide the best way to replace any missing teeth.

What will a bridge cost?

Costs vary according to the size and type of bridge you need. Always get a written estimate and treatment plan before starting any dental treatment. Although a bridge may seem expensive it should last many years.

Can I have teeth that attach to the jawbone?

Yes, by having implants. The success of this technique means you may be able to replace missing teeth without crowning other teeth. Find out more by visiting our Implants webpage.

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