A bridge may be used to replace a single tooth. A bridge consists of both a false tooth, called a pontic and the anchors (abutment crowns) that support the pontic. The entire structure spans the space vacated by the missing tooth.
Neighboring tooth structure is removed shaping them to receive an anchor crown. An impression is then taken and sent to a dental lab where they fabricate the bridge.
The structure part of the bridge is created with a strong metal alloy that can handle the anticipated stresses.
Tooth-like porcelain is then fused to the structure. Once the bridge is tested for a correct fit, the anchor crowns are cemented to the neighboring teeth.
The most conservative approach when attempting to replace a missing tooth is a bonded bridge or often referred to as a Maryland Bridge. An impression of the area is taken and a new tooth referred to as a pontic is formed. Attached to the pontic on either side are abutments or 'wings' that will support the pontic. The most common type of Maryland Bridge uses abutments that are cemented on the backside of the adjoining teeth and hold the pontic in place where the missing tooth used to be. The adjacent teeth may need to be slightly modified to accept the 'wings' of the pontic. The advantage of this type of procedure is that you are not having to put full coverage crowns on the adjoining teeth.