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Updated on November 13, 2023
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Cantilever Dental Bridge: How It Works, Pros, Cons & Costs

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What is a Cantilever Dental Bridge?

Cantilever dental bridges are dental restorations that replace missing teeth. They use only one tooth for support, instead of two, as with conventional dental bridges

Named for an architectural horizontal beam, cantilever dental bridges are ideal when you only have teeth on one side of a gap.

cantilever bridge

Who is a Candidate for a Cantilever Dental Bridge?

You’re likely a candidate for a cantilever dental bridge if you have:1

  • Only one abutting (supporting) tooth available
  • Minimal biting force on the prosthetic tooth
  • A missing front tooth
  • Healthy gum tissue
  • A good bite
  • Excellent oral hygiene

Because they only receive support from one side, cantilever bridges need to be placed in a part of your mouth that won’t sustain a lot of chewing force. They’re ideal replacements for front teeth since the other tooth will act as the abutment.

Pros and Cons of Cantilever Dental Bridges

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

Pros

The benefits of cantilever bridges include:1, 2, 3

  • Effective to replace missing front teeth — A bridge can restore aesthetics and improves your smile.
  • Simpler, less invasive, and reversible placement Installing a cantilever bridge involves less disturbance of surrounding natural teeth and soft tissues. It also makes oral hygiene easier to maintain.
  • Long-lasting One study found that over 80% of cantilever dental bridges remained intact after 18 years.4
  • Affordable – 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, you must meet certain requirements to be a candidate.
  • Potential for damage or failure — Cantilever bridges may eventually crack, come apart, or fail altogether. They only have support on one side, which increases the risk of damage or failure.

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 where you live, your insurance plan, and which tooth or teeth are being replaced.

Always talk to your dentist for more details about your payment options. Consult the details of your insurance plan to see what your coverage might be.

Cantilever Bridge Procedure: What to Expect

The entire cantilever bridge process takes more than one dentist visit and usually goes as follows:

  • Your dentist will take impressions for the bridge and crown that will be placed on the abutment tooth.
  • Your dentist will prepare the abutment tooth 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. 

How to Care for Your Cantilever Bridge

Your dentist will provide post-placement instructions on caring for your cantilever dental bridge. 

An excess of oral bacteria from poor diet or oral hygiene can contribute to damage or failure. To ensure the longevity of your bridge, you should maintain good oral hygiene and avoid excess sugar and sticky, starchy snacks.

Alternative Treatment Options

If you’re not a candidate for a cantilever dental bridge, you have alternative options, including:

Other Dental Bridges

Other dental bridges are available, including conventional bridges, Maryland bridges, and implant-supported bridges. 

A different dental bridge may be more appropriate, especially if you’re replacing a molar. 

Dental Implants

Dental implants are metal fixtures implanted in your jawbone with a crown or bridge attached.8 

Dental implants may be cheaper than dental bridges but aren’t always covered by insurance.

Partial Dentures

Another option is partial dentures, which are removable and must be taken out of your mouth daily. 

Partial dentures may be right if you have multiple missing teeth or want a less invasive procedure.

Summary

Cantilever dental bridges are restorations that replace a missing tooth using only one for support. They’re ideal if you’re missing a front tooth or another tooth in an area that doesn’t bear a lot of chewing force.

The procedure for cantilever bridges takes multiple appointments. The bridge is fixed permanently in your mouth. 

A cantilever bridge can cost from $500 to $2,700 and may be covered by insurance. Alternatives to cantilever bridges are other types of dental bridges, dental implants, and partial dentures.

Last updated on November 13, 2023
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 13, 2023
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, A., et al. “Assessment of various factors for feasibility of fixed cantilever bridge: a review study.” ISRN Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2012.
  2. Bukhari, M., et al. "Advantages and disadvantages of cantilever bridges." International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, 2022.
  3. Smith, B. "Types of bridges." Planning and Making Crowns and Bridges, CRC Press, 2013.
  4. Kern, M. "Ten-year outcome of zirconia ceramic cantilever resin-bonded fixed dental prostheses and the influence of the reasons for missing incisors." Journal of Dentistry, Elsevier, 2017.
  5. "What Is The Cost Of A Dental Bridge?" Brook West Family Dentistry, 2023.
  6. "How Much Does A Dental Bridge Cost?" Wake Dental Care, 2023.
  7. "Are Dental Bridges Expensive?" Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, 2023.
  8. Himmel, R. "The cantilever fixed partial denture—A literature review." The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, Elsevier, 1992.
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