What are dentures, bridges, veneers and dental implants made of?

Dentures, bridges and veneers available on the NHS can be made of several different materials. Ask your dentist what material they recommend, as some will be more suitable than others.

Dentures

Dentures are removable false teeth that fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth. They help with chewing and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. You should remove your dentures at least once a day to clean them.

Dentures can be made of:

  • acrylic resin
  • metal
  • a combination of acrylic and metal

Bridges

A bridge is a fixed replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. A bridge can be made of:

  • porcelain bonded to metal alloys, which may contain gold, silver, nickel, chromium, titanium and molybdenum
  • metal alloys containing cobalt chromium, titanium, aluminium and vanadium
  • acrylic (plastic) for temporary bridges
  • porcelain

Bridges may also be made of other non-metallic materials. You should ask your dentist what is most suitable for you.

Veneers

A veneer is a new surface to fit over the front of a tooth. They're available on the NHS if they're needed to improve the health of your mouth – but not just to improve the appearance of your teeth (cosmetic reasons).

Veneers can be made of:

  • porcelain
  • composite materials (the materials that make white fillings)

Porcelain veneers are more realistic looking and long-lasting but also much more expensive than composite veneers.

Dental implants 

Dental implants are artificial roots directly implanted into the gum and bone to hold crowns, bridges or dentures and replace missing teeth. They are not routinely available on the NHS. They are available privately but can be expensive.

Each implant is essentially a metal screw made of titanium. Titanium is "biocompatible", meaning it is not rejected by the body and the metal will fuse with the surrounding living bone.

Read the answers to more questions about dental health.

Further information:

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