There are three primary types of dental bridges, but the concept behind all of them is the same: Either one or several artificial teeth known as pontics are placed in the mouth and anchored to implanted posts or neighboring teeth (known as abutments). They literally bridge a space between two teeth.
- A fixed bridge contains a crown at either end with one or more false teeth attached between them. The crowns slip over the natural teeth found immediately to the right and left of the gap made by missing teeth, and the bridge's false teeth rest on the gums. This is a very durable bridge that's appropriate for placement anywhere in the mouth.
- A resin-bonded bridge -- also known as a Maryland bonded bridge -- contains false teeth that span a gap in the mouth. But in this case, the false teeth are attached via metal bands that are glued to neighboring teeth instead of anchored with crowns. It is a viable option when the anchoring teeth are still in good shape and don't need to be restored through the crowning procedure. It is also often used in the front of the mouth where the stress is minimal and the metal bands can be hidden behind the teeth. It is a less invasive process, although the bridge itself isn't as secure as a fixed bridge.
- A cantilever bridge is similar to a fixed bridge except, instead of anchoring to a tooth on either side of the gap, it attaches to only one tooth. This might be used in the very back of the mouth where there is only one tooth to which the bridge can anchor, or anywhere there is only one healthy tooth to which the bridge can attach.