Dental bridges

There are many types of bridges; the most common ones are ceramic bridges with a metal core. These bridges are not very attractive, since with the metal inside they seem a bit unreal.

Today though there are many materials to use as a core for example pure porcelain bridges or even better - the best material around - zirconia.

Zirconia is a white core, it is very strong and makes bridges look amazingly vivid and realistic.

It is the ultimate choice if you want your bridges to look like real teeth.

zirconia ceramic crowns on the left vs a metal ceramic crown on the right

When you lose a tooth and you need to restore the gap that is left there are two options. One is to replace the missing tooth with an implant and the other is to replace the gap with a bridge. The bridge closes the gap of the missing tooth connecting the tooth before the gap with the tooth after the gap with full coverage bridges (that is with bridges that cover the tooth fully from all sides). Or perhaps you do not like the appearance of a tooth or it has lost a lot of tissue and you want to protect it with a crown, then you need to decide what crown will you put on your tooth.

There are several types of bridges available: metal bridges, metal-acryllic bridges, metal-ceramic bridges, full ceramic bridges and alumina or zirconia–ceramic bridges.

You can say “this is all Greek to me” and you would be right. So what is the difference between all these types of bridges and which one is more suitable for each case?

All these questions will be answered in this article.

Metal bridges are not really used any more in dentistry. They maybe rather hard and reliable, but they are really ugly, non-aesthetic and today there is no use for them. Sometimes full coverage bridges are made of metal only in special cases (most of them for financial reasons).

Metal – acrylic bridges are still used in dentistry. These bridges have a metal core and are covered on the visible side (meaning that they are not covered with plastic on the inside). They look ok, they are steady enough, and they don’t cost much so where is the catch?

Well the catch is that first of all the material covering the metal is plastic, so in time it will change color and it will start to change its chemical state giving a really unpleasant taste to the mouth; and let’s not forget that there is no actual chemical bond between the metal and the plastic cover (there is only mechanical fixture) so it can even chip or break and leave you with a rather ugly metal window on your teeth.

Metal ceramic bridges are used most of the time. They are the most preferable type of crown used in dentistry today. And there is no reason why they should not be. Metal ceramic bridges have a metal core (can be stainless steel or gold plated metals) and the metal is covered with ceramic (porcelain). Here there is a chemical bond between the metal and the porcelain, the material is stable over time, it does not change color neither does it come.

There are of course several drawbacks as for example the chipping of the porcelain if it sustains extreme pressure, there is no way to repair the porcelain loss if the metal is uncovered (if there is no metal visible the missing porcelain chip can be restored in the dentist office very quickly in 20 minutes) and of course metal porcelain bridges are more expensive than metal or metal – acrylic bridges.

A metal ceramic crown

On the other hand though, metal porcelain bridges are good, and rather beautiful but they don’t come even close to the aesthetics of a natural tooth. And that is because of the metal core that is inside them. This metal core has to be covered with an opaque layer of porcelain and that still makes these bridges look rather fake. You can always understand that someone is wearing a metal ceramic crown.

Today though technology has improved porcelain enough to be used without a metal core and sustain pressure.

Full ceramic bridges have no metal core, so they look absolutely beautiful and they are really close to the aesthetics of a natural tooth.

The drawback is that they can only endure this much pressure making them not suitable for long bridges (many teeth missing) or bridges for posterior teeth that sustain a lot of pressure. Another factor to consider is the price. They cost almost twice or even more than metal-ceramic bridges.

The latest technology of today regarding bridges is zirconia – ceramic bridges. Zirconia is a white metal core that is really hard (it can only be cut by laser) and of course it gives a very good aesthetic result (if not perfect) since it is white!

Zircon porcelain bridge on a model

Zirconia-ceramic bridges are indeed state of the art, they can endure a lot of pressure, they can be used for long bridges and for posterior bridges. Well of course everything good comes at a price. They are even more expensive than full ceramic bridges. But what you pay is what you get.

A zirconia ceramic bridge

Which bridge is the best?

Well the facts have been given to you; it is up to you to decide which bridge you want for your teeth. My money is on the zirconia ceramic bridges.

No patient of mine who has seen a zirconia ceramic bridge ever asked for any other type of bridge. But don’t let my personal experience influence you.

One popular idea is to have your dental bridges done before, after or during your holidays in Greece or the Greek islands.

If you would like to learn more on bridges or if you have questions on the subject please contact one of our listed specialist dentists in dental bridges.