Dental Bridges

Your Guide to Top-Quality, Affordable Dentistry

A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth. To form and place a bridge, the two teeth on the sides of the gap left by the loss of a tooth are usually capped or crowned for strength and stability. Then a false tooth is placed or "bridged" between the two crowns. If natural teeth are not in place to support the bridge, implants may be required. Other options for replacing missing teeth include partial dentures and dental implants.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism | Planning Ahead | Accreditation and Certification | Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

Why It Works for Medical Tourism

If you need only one bridge, you won’t save money traveling, but you may choose to do so anyway. Some global patients have established satisfactory relationships with out-of-country dentists and wouldn’t dream of having their dental work done elsewhere. Others take a "might-as-well-as" approach to dental care: if they plan to visit a country for business or pleasure, "why not" save a little money on dental care at the same time?

If, however, you need a bridge as well as additional dental work, you may gain substantial savings by having your work done abroad. Savings in Mexico and Thailand can be as much as 60 percent. In Costa Rica and Malaysia, the average savings is 65 percent.

Planning Ahead

Getting a bridge is a process. During the first visit, the adjacent, supporting teeth are prepared and temporary crowns are put in place. Next, impressions are made; they serve as a model for the dental laboratory technicians who will make the permanent crowns and false tooth. The dentist makes and inserts a temporary bridge to be worn while the laboratory work is done. During the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent bridge is inserted.

Be sure to ask your dentist how long it will take to create the permanent crown and false tooth. Some dentists have labs onsite and promise very quick results. If your dentist uses an offsite lab, it can take several days or weeks before the bridge is ready to be positioned.

If you’re planning to travel for a bridge, make sure your schedule can accommodate two or more trips to the dentist. It can take time to adjust the fit before the bridge is cemented permanently in place. Also, verify that your dentist’s schedule matches your travel plans, and allow plenty of recovery time, especially if you are having several dental procedures done at once.

Accreditation and Certification

Non-US dentists practicing abroad can apply for affiliate membership in the American Dental Association (ADA). Such membership is available to dentists who are practicing in a country other than the United States and who do not have an active US dental license.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) runs an accreditation program that serves professionals practicing in the US and abroad. Applicants for accreditation complete a rigorous credentialing process that includes a written examination, oral examination, and peer review of clinical cases.

Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

  • Do make sure you check and understand the specifics of your dental insurance plan, if you have one. Some plans cover full or partial costs for bridges. Find out how your coverage is affected if you travel for dental care.
  • Do ask about lower cost alternatives. For example, a missing tooth can be replaced with an expensive implant or a less expensive bridge. If the latter is as good as the former in your judgment, then save some money and opt for the more affordable choice.
  • Do ask for a cost estimate in writing. Although the estimate may change once the dentist is able to review your needs in person, it is important to have an agreed upon point of departure.
  • Dentistry can be painful, especially if you compress a lot of work into a short period of time. If you are highly sensitive to pain, do discuss pain management with your dentists—both at home and out-of-country.
  • Do ask if all your work can be done in one trip; your savings decline if you have to travel twice.
  • Do ask about compatibility of any parts or materials used. Standard dental practices, supplies, and equipment vary among countries. Incompatibilities can create problems for follow-up care at home.
  • Do remember to request x-rays, estimates, test results, and other documentation to share with your at-home dentist so you don't have to pay for more later. Most will supply you x-rays in digital format. Ask for jpg files.
  • Do ask for patient references. A successful practice should be more than happy to share positive outcomes.
  • Don't fall for showy websites. Find out about your clinic's good standing and accreditation, as well as your dentist's training, credentials, board certification, and experience. The process of planning, forming, and placing a bridge requires expertise. Make sure your dentist has plenty.
  • Last updated on 16 March 2014