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 (false teeth) are fitted in place of natural teeth. You remove them yourself for cleaning.

Dentures can be made of:

  • acrylic resin
  • metal
  • a combination of acrylic and metal
  • a special type of strong porcelain 

Bridges

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

  • porcelain-bonded metal alloys containing 60% or more fine gold
  • metal alloys containing stainless steel, cobalt chromium, or nickel chromium
  • 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. Veneers are only available on the NHS if there's a clinical or medical need for them. They are not available on the NHS 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 they are also much more expensive than composites. 

Dental implants 

Dental implants are artificial teeth that are directly implanted into the gum bone to replace missing teeth. They can be used as a more expensive alternative to dentures and are not available on the NHS.

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.

An artificial tooth (or in some cases, a small bridge of teeth) is then connected to the screw. The tooth is usually made of the same substances used to make bridges.

Read the answers to more questions about dental health.

Further information:

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