Abutment Teeth for Dental Bridges: Can Any Existing Tooth Do the Job?

Dentist Blog

You're probably already familiar with the word, but what's an abutment in terms of dentistry? To put it simply, it's a tooth (or a tooth root) that supports or stabilizes a dental prosthesis, such as a denture or dental bridge. So if you're about to receive a dental bridge, your dentist will want to discuss your abutment tooth (or teeth) with you. 

Solid Support

Dental bridges are used to replace multiple missing teeth and are connected to the remaining natural teeth at either end of the gap. This dental prosthesis perhaps doesn't have the most inventive name, because it literally bridges the gap created by your missing teeth. But a bridge needs solid support, and this is where abutment teeth become relevant.

Basic Modifications

Even if the natural teeth on either side of the gap are in good health, they cannot efficiently serve as abutment teeth without a few basic modifications. The clasps that must be attached to them are part of a rigid connector that is generally made of metal. If this clasp was attached to a natural tooth, the tooth in question would become seriously compromised.

Ongoing Pressure

As the dental prosthesis experiences pressure (such as bite pressure from chewing), the impact is absorbed by the prosthesis and its clasps. Some of this pressure is then transferred (via the clasps) to the abutment teeth. This means that the metallic components would be exerting ongoing pressure on your natural dental enamel. This pressure would lead to rapid corrosion of the enamel, and the eventual breakdown of the tooth.


Natural teeth must be reinforced to become abutment teeth. This reinforcement involves the addition of a dental crown, which then becomes the outer surface of the tooth. The crown can readily absorb pressure and any other contact from the clasps without degrading. Your natural tooth remains perfectly healthy and intact beneath the shielding provided by the crown. 

Types of Crown

The suggested dental crown will be ceramic. This material can match the color of your tooth while offering the required strength to function as an abutment. Acrylic crowns are less expensive but lack the necessary durability to be effective as abutments. Their relatively short service life and the subsequent need for replacement will soon cancel out any savings. Stainless steel crowns are also an option, but these are conspicuous, and often may only be appropriate for rear molars where they're unlikely to be seen. 

All dental bridges need some form of an abutment, and having dental crowns fitted to these abutment teeth is a standard part of the process.

To learn more about dental bridges, contact a dentist in your area today.


21 September 2022

Give Yourself the Gift of a Beautiful Smile

If you are someone who hesitates to open your mouth when you smile because you are embarrassed about your teeth, you should know that there are a number of cosmetic techniques that can give you a beautiful smile you will be proud to show to the world. As a cosmetic dentist, I have seen many clients transform their lives simply by fixing their smiles. This blog is meant to encourage people to find out about the possibilities in cosmetic dentistry so they can feel good about their smiles. A beautiful, confident smile really can change your life. I would love to show you how.