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Cantilever Dental Bridge - Procedure, Pros, Cons & Costs

Updated on May 26, 2022
Nandita Lilly
Written by Aaron Clarius
Medically Reviewed by Nandita Lilly

What is a Cantilever Bridge?

Cantilever bridges are fixed dental bridges held in place on only one side of a missing tooth. 

A cantilever is a beam that extends out horizontally and only has support on one end. Like cantilever bridges in architecture, cantilever dental bridges use support from one side to prop up the middle false tooth.

cantilever bridge

Who is a Candidate for a Cantilever Bridge?

A cantilever bridge is used when there is only one abutment (supporting) tooth available and there won’t be too much biting force on the prosthetic tooth.

Cantilever bridges are acceptable for front tooth replacements since the other front tooth acts as the abutment. This way, the bridge won’t be under as much pressure as it would in the back of the mouth. The back teeth must be able to sustain a lot of chewing force.

Cantilever bridges also require healthy gum tissue, good occlusion (teeth need to fit together well), and good oral hygiene.1

Pros and Cons of Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever bridges, like other types of dental bridges, come with advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

The following are reasons cantilever bridges may be preferred:1, 2, 3

  • They can effectively replace missing front teeth — This restores aesthetics and improves your smile.
  • Their placement is simpler, less invasive, and reversible This means less disturbance of surrounding natural teeth and soft tissues. It also makes oral hygiene easier to maintain.
  • They can last for years One study found that more than 80% were intact after 18 years.4
  • They may be less expensive than other tooth replacement options.

Cons

The drawbacks of cantilever bridges are:1, 2, 3

  • Limited applicability — Cantilever bridges aren’t strong enough to replace molars. As with other bridges, certain requirements must be met in order to have them placed.
  • Potential for damage or failure — Cantilever bridges, like other kinds of bridge, may eventually crack, come apart, or fail altogether. They attach and have support on only one side, which increases the risk of damage or failure.

Cantilever Bridge Procedure and Aftercare

The entire cantilever bridge process takes more than one dentist visit. The dentist will need to take impressions for the bridge and crown that will be placed on the abutment tooth.

Your dentist will prepare the abutment tooth in order to fit the crown. A temporary crown and/or bridge may be placed. The impressions your dentist took will be sent to a lab, where they’ll be used to create your new crown and bridge.

Once they’re ready, your new permanent crown and bridge will be adjusted and cemented in place. Your dentist will provide you with post-placement instructions. To ensure the longevity of your bridge, maintain good oral hygiene and avoid excess sugar and sticky, starchy snacks.

Allowing oral bacteria to propagate through poor diet and oral hygiene may contribute to bridge damage or failure. You’ll also want to stay away from hard or sticky foods. These foods can cause damage and make the area around the bridge harder to keep clean.

How Much Does a Cantilever Bridge Cost?

Cost estimates for a cantilever bridge range from $500 to $2,700.5, 6, 7 Costs vary depending on your location, insurer, and the tooth or teeth being replaced.

For a better idea of what a cantilever bridge might cost, consult your dentist. You might want to talk to your insurer as well.

Alternative Treatment Options

A cantilever bridge is not the only kind of dental bridge available. Your specific situation and needs may not make you a good candidate for one. This is especially true if the tooth you need to replace is a molar.

Another effective option is dental implants.8 These are metal fixtures implanted in your jawbone with a crown or bridge attached.

Another option is partial dentures, which are removable and must be taken out of your mouth on a daily basis. 
There are pros and cons to both bridges and implants, and your situation may call for one over the other. Your dentist can help you make an informed decision about the best treatment option for your needs.

Last updated on May 26, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 26, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Sharma, Ashu et al. “Assessment of various factors for feasibility of fixed cantilever bridge: a review study.” ISRN dentistry vol. 2012 : 259891. doi:10.5402/2012/259891
  2. Bukhari, Meisan Ali et al. "Advantages and disadvantages of cantilever bridges." Int J Community Med Public Health vol. 9,1 : 359-363. doi:10.18203/2394-6040.ijcmph20214865
  3. Smith, Bernard G.N. "Types of bridges." Planning and Making Crowns and Bridges, CRC Press : 202-207.
  4. Kern, Matthias. "Ten-year outcome of zirconia ceramic cantilever resin-bonded fixed dental prostheses and the influence of the reasons for missing incisors." Journal of Dentistry vol. 65 : 51-55.
  5. "What Is The Cost Of A Dental Bridge?" Brook West Family Dentistry.
  6. "How Much Does A Dental Bridge Cost?" Wake Dental Care.
  7. "Are Dental Bridges Expensive?" Lane & Associates Family Dentistry.
  8. Himmel, Raphael et al. "The cantilever fixed partial denture—A literature review." The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry vol. 67,4 : 484-487.
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