If you are dealing with one or more missing teeth, you may be considering a dental bridge. Whether or not you’ve been wearing a false tooth, dental bridges can do wonders for your self-image and quality of life, but the main issue is cost.
As a major procedure, how much do dental bridges cost, and what difference does dental insurance make?
A dental bridge fills the gap left by a missing tooth, by anchoring a prosthetic tooth to the adjacent teeth.
The cost of dental bridges varies depending on the type, with an implant-supported bridge costing thousands more than a Maryland or traditional bridge.
Dental bridge cost varies by materials too. Metal alloys are more affordable than natural-looking ceramic or porcelain.
Your insurance company may cover you for up to half of the dental fees, but it is possible to access cheaper treatment through specific types of clinics.
Dentures, implants, crowns, and veneers are the alternatives to dental bridges, which suit different needs.
Bridges are different from dental implants and false teeth, so what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Dental bridges are a permanent solution to missing teeth, just like implants. However, the replacement for your missing tooth (or teeth) is anchored to crowns on either side. Your new tooth “bridges” the gap between your natural teeth, instead of being attached to a replacement root. Unfortunately, the two healthy teeth on either side must be shaved down for the crowns.
Implants are made of a dental “crown” designed to resemble natural teeth, a metal screw that acts as a root, and an abutment to hold them together. Dental implants can prevent your jawbone from degrading in the absence of a natural root, as the screw takes its place. However, you may feel that the surgery involved is too invasive, and implants can be more expensive.
If you have several missing teeth in a row, implant-supported bridges may be best. Here, the bridge fills the gap between your two implants at each end.
Dentures, or false teeth, are the cheapest and least effective solution and may be your only option if you have a full arch of missing teeth. There is a risk of them falling out if enough force is applied or they aren’t correctly fitted, and you need to remove them at night and sometimes during cleaning.
Dental bridge costs depend on several factors:
The four main types of dental bridges are:
Maryland dental bridges minimize the need to shave enamel from your natural teeth, which are known as “abutment teeth” when used to attach bridges. Instead of using dental crowns, the Maryland bridge uses metal or porcelain frameworks attached to each abutment tooth.
On average, this type of bridge costs $1,500 to $2,500 for one false tooth, making it the most affordable tooth replacement option.
The cantilever type of bridge holds your artificial tooth in place with just one crown on an adjacent abutment tooth. As this tooth must be natural, you can use a cantilever bridge when the other adjacent tooth is an implant, or if you’re replacing a back molar. Typical costs for a cantilever bridge can range between $2,000 and $5,000 for just one artificial tooth.
The most common type of bridge is fittingly known as the traditional bridge. Traditional bridges involve one false tooth anchored by dental crowns on two adjacent abutment teeth, and so they are best when you have two natural teeth on each side. Your typical traditional bridge is within the same price range as a cantilever bridge.
An implant-supported dental bridge is the most expensive option, as it can require multiple surgeries over several months. One implant can be inserted into the jawbone for every missing tooth, which then helps to support the bridge. If this is not feasible, then you may have one suspended bridge between two false teeth supported by implants. This is the most durable type.
Using an example of three or four teeth supported by two dental implants, an implant-supported dental bridge typically costs somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000. Thankfully, the implanted components are almost always permanent as rejection is rare.
The most natural-looking materials used in dental bridges are porcelain and zirconium. These are popular in cosmetic dentistry for not only their appearance but also their durability and strength. However, they are not immune to being worn down or cracked .
Metal alloys such as nickel, chromium, palladium, and even gold are other common choices. They seldom break or negatively affect the surrounding teeth, but their metallic appearance usually relegates them to the back of the mouth, as bridges for missing molars. Metal alloys are the most affordable type of dental bridge.
Composite or resin dental bridges are available too, but are often the most vulnerable to fractures, alongside pure porcelain or ceramic bridges . You may need a ceramic or porcelain bridge if you have metal allergies, however.
Additionally, porcelain fused to metal or zirconium can provide a balance between appearance and strength.
Dental fees are another variable beyond the cost of materials and dental bridge type. How easy or difficult it is to fit your dental bridge will affect the final cost, which is why the price estimations given above range by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Fees for any additional dental services you may need, such as periodontal treatment or tooth extraction, will add to your total dental bridge costs too. If you need bone grafts for an implant-supported bridge, your costs will be even higher.
Where you live unfortunately affects treatment costs, as some states have higher average dental fees than others. The most expensive states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The cheapest are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
How much does a dental bridge cost? This table shows estimates for the costs of bridges by their type, assuming you need only one replacement tooth:
|Types of dental bridges||Cost|
|Traditional or cantilever bridge||$500 – $5000|
|Maryland bridge||$1,500 – $2,500|
|Implant-supported dental bridge (a three-unit bridge in total, as two implants support one bridging tooth)||$5,000 – $15,000|
Your insurance company may claim to cover 50% of your dental bridge costs, but the plan’s annual maximum can make your real coverage significantly less.
For example, if your dental bridge procedure costs a total of $4,000, but your annual maximum is $1,000, you would still expect to pay $3,000. If you have a $50 deductible and a $1,200 bridge, you will still have $625 in out-of-pocket costs.
Dental savings plans are an alternative to traditional insurance, which cover a much wider range of dental treatment. Also known as a dental discount plan, a savings plan may cover up to 50% of the cost of dental bridges, with no deductible or maximum.
Like other types of dental insurance, you will find that savings plans are sold in different levels, which can range from only covering the basics to covering dental crowns, bridges, and other major or restorative procedures. The percentage of dental bridge costs, among other procedures, varies too from as little as 10% to 50–60%.
Dental indemnity insurance is another lesser-known type of dental insurance plan that will generally cover 50% of your costs for major procedures such as bridges.
Here are some images of how you can expect your smile to look after a dental bridge for missing front teeth. Note the natural appearance, with no sign of a tooth missing from between the neighboring teeth.
There are several ways to cut your dental bridge cost down to a more affordable fee, depending on your financial situation and location.
The accurately-named clinic chain, Affordable Dental Care, offers a wide range of services including dental bridges. You can find the nearest location online if you feel that this clinic is the right match for you.
If you have dental insurance or membership in a savings plan, choosing an in-network dentist in your area will help make your bridges more affordable. A DHMO insurance plan will restrict your coverage to in-network dentists (those who have signed a contract with the insurance company), but they are generally the most affordable types of dental insurance.
If you are in a low-income bracket, you may be eligible for treatment under government programs’ publicly-funded clinics. Generally, you must earn no more than twice the federal poverty threshold . Some states also extend Medicaid to all adults earning less than 133% of the poverty threshold, and this may include the full coverage of dental services.
Dental schools are another option to receive cheaper dental care. These are “staffed” by volunteer students nearing the end of their degrees, who require practical experience before they can graduate. You don’t have to worry about the quality of service because they are closely supervised by experienced teachers.
The types of dental bridges that are available to you affect your final dental bill too. Maryland dental bridges are the most affordable type, and the least damaging to adjacent teeth. It is best to search for a dentist who offers this type of dental restoration if they suit your needs, as they are cheaper than the more common traditional bridge.
Depending on your needs and preferences, other tooth replacement options include:
Implants are a permanent option for missing teeth. During surgery, a screw is implanted into your jaw bone, which your false tooth is adhered to with an abutment. The screw and your jaw bone fuse together over time in a process known as osseointegration. This preserves the health of your bones, which can degenerate from a missing tooth.
Dentures are a cost-effective alternative if you have several missing teeth. Most dentures stay in place through suction, while implant-supported dentures adhere to the implants. Both complete and partial dentures are removable. Conventional dentures can cost up to $1,000 for a full upper and lower set, but a full set of implant-supported dentures may cost up to, or even over, $90,000 .
A traditional fixed crown is one way to protect and improve the appearance of your teeth, as long as you still have your “problem” teeth and you can avoid extraction. They are protective, tooth-shaped shells that appear just like natural teeth.
Veneers are the second option to disguise and protect teeth that can still be salvaged. These are resin composite or porcelain shells bonded to the outer-facing side of your teeth.
If you wish to cover existing, but damaged or worn, teeth, keep in mind that a dental crown or veneers are often seen as cosmetic procedures and not covered by most types of dental insurance.
What are the most important things to know about the costs of dental bridges?
A loose dental bridge can be reused after it is cemented back on, but the process of replacing the dental cement, which is meant to be permanent, can damage your natural teeth.
If your traditional bridge breaks, it cannot be reused and must be replaced. Keeping up good oral hygiene and regular dental care, and avoiding habits such as teeth grinding and eating too many hard or chewy foods, can prevent bridge fractures.
To replace six missing teeth, you may benefit most from four crowns attached to two implants on either side. The expected price will be between $4,000 to $16,000, with an average cost of around $8,500 .
If you decide on a Maryland bridge, you may pay up to $8,300 without insurance for six teeth. A traditional bridge can set you back over $24,000 without coverage.
Maryland bridges should cost $2,300 to $4,700 if you require three false teeth. The more expensive traditional, or cantilever bridges, may cost anywhere between $2,500 and $15,000 for five units (three teeth and two anchoring crowns).
A resin-bonded (Maryland) bridge will generally cost between $1,500 and $2,500 for one tooth and its two wings, while you can expect to pay $2,100 to $4,500 for a cantilever bridge.
The cost of dental bridges may be as little as $500 out of pocket to replace one missing tooth, or over $20,000 if you need several teeth replaced. This also depends on the type of bridge.
In most cases, a dental bridge will cost less than an implant, especially if you decide on a Maryland dental bridge.
Dental bridge treatment is an effective way to replace missing teeth. As it is cheaper and less invasive than implants, you may prefer this option to avoid surgery (or reduce the amount of surgery you need).
Additionally, choosing a dental insurance plan with coverage for bridges or using low-cost dental care options can go a long way in making your bridges more affordable.