Showing posts with label prosthetic crowns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prosthetic crowns. Show all posts

Pontic Design in Prosthodontics

The pontic, \pŏn΄tĭk\, is an artificial tooth on a fixed partial denture that replaces a missing natural tooth, restores its function, and usually restores the space previously occupied by the clinical crown. An ideal correctly designed posterior pontic should have the following features. 

  1. All surfaces should have convexity with proper finish. 
  2. The contact with buccal contiguous slop should be minimal (pinpoint)) and with pressure free (modified ridge lap). 
  3. Buccal and lingual shunting mechanisms should conform with those of the adjacent teeth. 
  4. The occlusal table should be in functional harmony with the occlusion of all of the teeth. 
  5. The overall length of the buccal surface should be equal to that of the adjacent abutment teeth or pontic. 

Figure 1. Schematic presentation of various pontic designs; (a) Sanitary pontic; has no contact with the edentulous ridge, (b) ridge lap pontic; forms a large concave contact replacing the contours of a missing tooth, (c) modified ridge lap; shows illusion of a tooth but it has all or nearly all convex surfaces for easy cleaning and minimize plaque accumulation, (d and e) bullet/conical; rounded and cleanable smaller tip in relation to overall size, (f) ovate; round end design currently in use where aesthetics is a primary concern[1].

The Pontic design can be classified into two types:

A. Pontic having mucosal contact 

  1. Sanitary/Hygienic/Fish-belly
  2. Modified sanitary type 

B. Pontic with no mucosal contact      

  1. Saddle/Ridge lap 
  2. Modified Ridge Lap 
  3. Conical
  4. Ovate 

Sanitary or Hygienic Pontic or Fish-Belly  

Sanitary pontic makes no contact with the edentulous ridge. It is made in an all-convex configuration, facio-lingually and mesio-distally. The space between the pontic and the mucosa should be 2 or 3 mm [2]. It is the most commonly used mandibular molar replacement pontic design. It has the advantage of providing good access for maintaining hygiene with the disadvantage of poor esthetic. 

Sanitary pontic design

Modified Sanitary 

The tissue facing surface of the modified sanitary design pontic has a hyperbolic parabola. The pontic is designed as a concave archway mesio-distally while the under surface is convex facio-lingually. It is indicated in molar replacement, provides access to the under-surface for good hygiene, along with poor esthetic.  

Modified sanitary pontic design-note the concavity at the cervical region.

Saddle/Ridge Lap 

It looks like crown of the tooth because it replaces all the contour of the missing tooth. It maintains a large concave contact with the underlying ridge and obliterates facial, lingual and proximal embrasures. Esthetic wise it provides the best result but due to impossible access to under-surface for cleaning, its use is limited for the replacement of maxillary incisors. 

Saddle/ridge lap pontic design

Modified Ridge Lap 

The modified ridge lap combines esthetic with easy cleaning and makes contact with ridge tissues in the shape of ‘T whose vertical arm ends at the crest of the ridge. This design is most commonly used in the area of the mouth that is visible during function, e. g. anterior teeth, premolars and sometimes maxillary molars.  

Modified ridge lap pontic design: note the half concave underneath surface in contact with mucosa.


Conical pontic design is mostly limited to the replacement of thin knife edged ridges in the non-display zone of the mouth. It has a convex surface with only touching the center of the residual alveolar ridge. It helps maintain good hygiene with poor esthetic. Conical design is indicated for the replacement of molars. 

Image of conical pontic design- note the egg shaped design in green circle.


Ovate pontic design is the most aesthetically suitable appealing design that looks like emerging from the gingiva. When ridge resorption is corrected by ridge augmentation, ovate design appears to be emerging through gingiva just like natural tooth. it is indicated for the replacement of maxillary incisors, canines, and premolars. It has the advantage of best esthetic, negligible amount of food entrapment and easy cleaning. The disadvantage is the requirement of surgical preparation of the receiving site before prosthesis fabrication. 

Ovate pontic design-note the convex under-surface of pontic embedded in mucosa (green circle).



  1. Eur J Dent. 2018 Jul-Sep; 12(3): 375–379. doi: 10.4103/ejd.ejd_232_18
  2. Rosenstiel & Tyllman respectively
  3. Pontics