If you are missing one or more teeth, a dental bridge may be an ideal solution to restore your smile and oral health. This dental restoration option fills in a space left by a missing tooth or teeth, literally bridging the gap. Traditional bridges consist of crowns that are placed over the teeth on either side of the space to act as anchors. False teeth called pontics are fused between the crowns to replace the missing teeth.
But how much does it cost with and without dental insurance? Most dental insurance plans help cover a portion of bridge costs, usually about 50% for the crowns and pontics based on your plan’s annual maximum benefit.
The cost of various types of dental bridges varies considerably. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on:
- The type of dental bridge used
- Number of teeth to be replaced
- Material used for fabrication of the pontic and abutment
- Location of your dentist
The following is a breakdown of what you’re likely to pay for the different types of dental bridge without insurance:
- A regular dental bridge costs between $2,000 and $5,000. Each abutment tooth has a pontic and a crown.
- Maryland tooth bridges with one pontic cost between $1,500 and $2,500.
- A cantilever bridge will cost between $2000 and $2700.
- An implant-supported bridge, which spans three or four teeth and is supported by two dental implants, costs $5,000 to $15,000.
When you have dental insurance, you can save about 50% of the cost by having tooth bridges and other particular dental treatment options covered.
Why Get a Bridge?
There are several benefits to dental bridges, including:
- Prevent surrounding teeth from shifting into the space
- Restore your smile and ability to chew and speak properly
- Maintain the shape of your face by preventing bone loss
- Permit eating of a normal diet without restrictions
- Improve oral hygiene compared to removable partial dentures
With good care, a bridge can last 5-15 years or longer before needing replacement. For many patients, bridges are an ideal permanent solution to replace missing teeth.
Average Cost of Dental Bridges
The cost of a bridge depends on several factors:
- Type of bridge (traditional, cantilever, Maryland, implant-supported)
- Number and type of pontics
- Materials used (porcelain, metal, combination)
- Location in the mouth
- Additional procedures like extractions or bone grafting
According to the American Dental Association, fees for a traditional three-unit bridge range from $2,000 to $5,000. Most are in the range of $3,000 to $4,500.
Breaking it down further:
- Each pontic usually costs between $600 – $1,500.
- Each crown used as an anchor is $500 – $1,500.
- Connectors that join the crowns cost about $150 – $300 each.
More extensive bridges with multiple pontics or bridges made of higher end materials like all-porcelain can be $6,000 – $15,000. Implant supported bridges typically range from $5,000 – $15,000.
Does Insurance Cover Replacing a Bridge?
Yes, but there are limitations. Most insurance will cover replacing a defective bridge once every 5 years. Replacing a lost, damaged or decayed bridge is usually covered every 7-10 years based on your benefits. Talk to your dentist and insurer if you need to replace an existing bridge.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover for Bridges?
Most dental insurance plans help cover a portion of bridge costs, usually about 50% for the crowns and pontics based on your plan’s annual maximum benefit.
For example, if you have a $1,500 annual maximum benefit and need a three-unit bridge estimated at $3,000, your insurance would likely cover:
- 50% of the first crown = $500
- 50% of the second crown = $500
- 50% of the pontic = $300
This totals your plan’s $1,500 annual maximum, reducing your out-of-pocket cost to around $1,500.
Many plans only cover basic metal bridges and may not cover upgraded materials like all-ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal bridges. Talk to your dentist and insurance provider to find out your exact coverage.
Ways to Reduce Dental Bridge Costs
If you want to get a bridge but are concerned about the cost, there are some ways to reduce your expenses:
Get quotes from a few reputable dentists to compare rates. But don’t choose based on cost alone. Make sure the dentist has strong credentials and experience with bridges.
Consider a flexible payment plan
Many dentists offer financing programs or personal payment plans to break up the costs interest-free over 6-12 months.
Have your dentist submit the treatment plan to your insurance company for pre-approval before starting. This will give you an accurate picture of your covered expenses.
Stick to basic materials
Opting for a porcelain-fused-to-metal bridge instead of all-porcelain can significantly reduce fees. Metal is stronger and wears better long-term.
Ask about dental school treatment
Students and faculty at dental schools can provide quality bridges at 30-50% less than private practice dentists.
Improve oral health
Have any cavities or gum disease treated to prevent complications that could increase bridge costs. Stay on top of hygiene and regular cleanings.
Join a dental savings plan
These discounted plans offer 10-60% off most procedures, including bridges. Monthly fees are usually around $80-150 for individuals.
The Cost of a Bridge is an Investment in Your Health
While bridges are a significant investment, protecting your oral health and smile are priceless. When properly cared for, a bridge can last for many years before needing to be replaced. Focus on finding an experienced dentist you trust that offers solutions to fit your budget. With the right dental team, you can have a healthy, beautiful smile for life.