The Difference between Bridges and Dentures
Dental bridges and partial dentures are both tooth replacement alternatives to dental implants. So what’s the difference between them? Dental bridges are permanently affixed in your mouth, which is why they are sometimes called fixed partial dentures. They are typically supported by one or more dental crowns placed over your natural teeth.
A partial denture, on the other hand, is a removable tooth replacement option. It’s not fully fixed in your mouth, it’s held in place by hooks and clasps that go around your other teeth as well as a plate that fits against the roof or floor of your mouth.
When to Choose a Dental Bridge
There are many good reasons why you might choose a dental bridge. This includes:
- Seeking full function
- Not enough bone for a dental implant
- Good opportunity to restore teeth next to a gap
- Faster results
- May cost less than a dental implant
A dental crown is a fully functional restoration. Because it’s permanently fixed in your mouth, you can use it to bite and chew normally, enjoying all of your favorite foods. It won’t interfere with speech or slip out at inappropriate times. This makes a dental bridge similar to da dental implant.
But where a dental bridge is different is that it doesn’t require bone in your jaw for support. Instead, it’s supported by your natural teeth, which are themselves safe in bone.
You might also choose a dental bridge when teeth next to a gap are damaged, decayed, or worn. Because a dental bridge is supported by dental crowns placed over these teeth, it’s an excellent opportunity to address both problems with one procedure.
A dental bridge can also be completed in less time. In some circumstances a dental implant may take six months or more to be completed, but a dental bridge can be completed in a month or so.
Usually, dental bridges and dental implants are comparable in price, but sometimes dental bridges may be cheaper.
When to Avoid a Dental Bridge
However, there are some situations in which you should avoid a dental bridge, such as:
- Need to replace too many missing teeth
- Teeth can’t support bridge
- Unhealthy bite might lead to failure
- Concern about collapsing bone and gums
Dental bridges work best to support one missing tooth between two healthy teeth. If there is a gap of more than one tooth, or if the gap has a tooth on only one side, a dental bridge may not be recommended.
A dental bridge is also not recommended if the teeth that would be required to support the bridge may not be strong enough because of decay, wear, trauma, or loss of supporting bone.
You should also avoid a dental bridge if you have an imbalanced bite that might lead to the failure of the bridge. Neuromuscular dentistry can sometimes be used to adjust your bite, but it still may not be enough to protect the dental bridge.
Finally, we might be concerned about the collapse of your jawbone and gums. Unlike natural teeth, dental bridges don’t stimulate the jawbone, so the body can remove the bone, reducing the support under the bridge. This can be a problem if it will create an unattractive space under the bridge or remove support from neighboring teeth.
Are Partial Dentures Ever the Best Option?
Partial dentures are among the least favorite dental restorations among patients and dentists, but they are sometimes appropriate. Partial dentures are generally not favored because they:
- Offer poor function–can interfere with talking and chewing
- Can damage teeth with hooks and clasps
- Can be poorly secured
- Can come out of place at inconvenient times
During your consultation, we will evaluate your tooth replacement needs and desires, including your budget restrictions. We will consider all the options available and recommend treatment options from optimal to adequate. This may include a partial denture if we think we can give you adequate appearance and function with it.