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Partial Dentures vs. Bridges: Which Is Best for You?

Old woman smiling and showing her teeth

There are many moving parts when deciding between bridges and partial dentures. Epidemiological studies have found that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. The American College of Prosthodontists reported this. When you’re missing teeth, it might damage more than just your ability to eat and smile comfortably. Most patients need help understanding the range of choices within each appliance class. We’ll go through the pros and cons of both methods so you can make an informed decision about which could work best for you.

What Are Partial Dentures?

A partial denture may be an option when you still have some of your natural teeth but are missing one or more teeth in the same arch. Removable partial dentures fill in the spaces left by missing teeth and keep the teeth next to them from moving. The fact that they may be removed from the mouth for daily cleaning is a bonus.

What Are Bridges?

Dental crowns are glued to the two natural teeth on either side of the gap. This holds an artificial tooth or teeth in place. The most common dental bridge is the conventional bridge, which can be utilized when there is at least one healthy tooth on either side of the space left by a lost tooth or teeth. Similarly, unlike dental implants, traditional dental bridges can be placed with minor invasive oral surgery. When one or more consecutive teeth are missing, the health of the rest of the teeth can be kept in good shape by replacing the missing teeth with crowns that are attached to implants on either end of the gap.

Partial Dentures vs. Bridges: The Comparison

If you’re trying to decide between a bridge and a partial denture, it’s smart to look at the two options. Both are meant to fill in the gaps left by lost teeth; however, depending on your unique scenario, one may be preferable. Aesthetics, convenience, and appropriateness all fall into this category. Let’s talk about the critical distinctions between partials and bridgework and the factors that can lead someone to prefer one over the other.

Appearance

The goal of both bridges and removable partial dentures is the same: to replace missing teeth.

Bridges: Appearance

The fake tooth in a bridge is usually made of the same material as the crowns on either side. This gives the bridge a more natural look. The false tooth seems to grow out of the gums, adding to its natural appearance.

Partial Dentures: Appearance

You can achieve a completely natural look with your partial dentures if the clasps in place are either not visible or are created to fit in with the color and texture of your natural teeth and gums. Your dentist will help you find the optimal solution that takes into account all of your preferences while still meeting the majority of your needs (in terms of comfort and stability, for example).

Fit

The fit and stability of an appliance normally go hand in hand; a stable device usually fits comfortably.

Bridges: Fit

Bridges can move freely when chewing because they are glued into place. The bridge fills up the gap as if the tooth were never lost.

Partial Dentures: Fit

A partial denture that fits right follows the shape of the gums and palate and uses the remaining teeth as a framework for support. The appliance can be kept in place with the help of the clasps while you eat or speak. All of these elements need to cooperate. The appliance won’t fit as well as it could if any of those factors is off.

Longevity

Restorations constructed of higher-quality materials endure longer in general.

Bridges: Longevity

Bridgework typically lasts 10 to 20 years, but it can last much longer depending on how well you care for it and the rest of your teeth. While nothing is ever truly permanent, bridges often last longer than partial dentures.

Partial Dentures: Longevity

Partial dentures have a life expectancy of about five to ten years before they need to be replaced. After this period, the partial will no longer be as well-fitting as it was when you first got it due to the natural wear and tear of the material and the slight changes in the shape of your mouth.

Bottom Line

Partial dentures are typically the greatest option for replacing three or more lost teeth, including teeth that aren’t all in the same place. This makes their application more versatile than bridges, typically confined to restoring one or two neighboring missing teeth in a particular location.

Furthermore, a partial denture can be used as a temporary device while saving money for a fixed bridge or implant-supported crown. Just because you choose a less expensive option does not rule out the possibility of upgrading to a fixed restoration in the future.

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