Deciding between partial dentures and bridges can be challenging, with many factors at play. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, epidemiological studies estimate that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Even a single missing tooth can affect your appearance, self-esteem, and your ability to chew properly. Most patients don’t realize that various options are available to them within each appliance category. Today we will discuss these two types of tooth replacement options to help you determine which might be appropriate for you.
What Are Partial Dentures?
A partial denture is suitable when you are missing one or a few teeth in the same arch but still have some remaining natural teeth. Removable partial dentures not only fill the gaps formed by the missing teeth but also prevent the adjacent teeth from shifting. They are also detachable, which means they can be removed from the mouth for daily cleaning.
What Are Bridges?
Traditional dental bridges consist of a single or a few false teeth in a row being held in place by dental crowns cemented onto each neighboring natural tooth. A traditional bridge (also sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures) is the most popular type of dental bridge and can be used when you have single or multiple teeth on both sides of the gap created by your missing teeth. A traditional dental bridge also doesn’t require invasive surgery as a dental implant does. It is also possible for dental crowns to be secured by dental implants located on either end when one or more teeth in a row are missing, allowing the surrounding natural healthy teeth to remain intact.
Partial Dentures vs. Bridges: The Comparison
It’s important to take a holistic look at the similarities and differences between bridges and partial dentures to understand better which one might be best for you. Although they are both designed to replace missing teeth, several factors could make one or the other the better choice for your specific situation or circumstance. Among others, these include appearance, comfort, and fit. Let’s explore the differences between partials versus bridgework and what would make someone choose one type of appliance over the other.
Both removable partial dentures and bridges serve a similar purpose: to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth with artificial teeth.
Partial Dentures: Appearance
Partial dentures offer a natural appearance, provided that the clasps that support them are hidden from view or made from a material that blends with the surrounding teeth and tissue. Your dentist will help you balance the appearance with other factors, including comfort and stability, by selecting the style that best addresses the majority of your needs.
Bridges often look more lifelike because the false tooth is made from the same material as the dental crowns surrounding them. The false tooth also appears to emanate from the gum tissue, making it look very lifelike and natural.
Fit and appliance stability usually goes hand-in-hand; a stable appliance usually fits comfortably.
Partial Dentures: Fit
A good-fitting partial denture is well-adapted to fit the contour of the gum tissue and palate while it uses the framework for support from the remaining teeth. The clasps help secure the appliance in place while talking or chewing. These things must all work in concert with one another. If any of them is lacking, the appliance’s fit will be less than ideal.
Because bridges are cemented into place, they have no issue moving around while chewing. The bridge functions as if the missing tooth were still present.
In general, restorations made from higher-quality materials last longer.
Partial Dentures: Longevity
Most partial dentures require replacement after five to ten years of use. After this amount of time, the material wears out, and there are subtle changes in the structure of your mouth that often prevent the partial from fitting as well as it originally did.
On average, bridgework lasts 10 to 20 years but can last much longer depending on how well you care for it and the remainder of your teeth. While nothing manufactured is forever, bridges typically have a longer lifespan than partial dentures.
Partials and bridges both offer comfort, but in different ways.
Partial Dentures: Comfort
Partial denture comfort is often a factor in the type of material that the partials is made from. Generally, partials made from higher quality materials that minimize bulkiness and excessive tissue coverage are the most comfortable partials dentures to wear.
When it comes to a choice between a removable or fixed appliance, bridges offer greater comfort since they are permanently attached to your natural teeth, a bridge functions and feels like natural teeth without the concern for food becoming trapped under them.
Cost is certainly a big consideration for most patients when it comes to their dental health. While some people will always choose the best, many have to work within budgetary constraints, which often determines their choice.
Partial Dentures: Cost
According to several sources, the average cost of a partial denture in 2022 is about $1,500. But before judging the price, consider that this figure includes a range of partial denture styles made from various materials, all lumped into a single figure. Because there are several types of partials and every patient’s tooth configuration is different, the actual price you pay for the type of partial best for you could vary widely from this estimate. It could be higher or lower depending on how many teeth are being replaced.
Again, there are a variety of styles and materials to choose from when it comes to replacing missing teeth with a bridge, including traditional bridges, all-ceramic bridges, cantilever bridges, and Maryland bridges. The average cost of a 3-unit dental bridge designed to replace a single tooth in 2022 ranges from $1,500 to $6,000.
In general, the procedure involved for a partial denture is much less aggressive than what is involved for a fixed bridge.
Partial Dentures: Procedure
It may be necessary for the dentist to perform some selective sanding on the natural teeth to make room for the support elements of the partial denture. In general, treatment with partial dentures conserves good tooth structure.
Bridgework requires a much more aggressive approach that involves trimming the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth to accommodate crowns. In most circumstances, this is only advisable if the teeth are decayed or already have large fillings.
Both partials and bridges require periodic maintenance and daily oral health hygiene if the existing teeth that support the appliance will remain in good health for the long haul. Both are prone to failure if they are not properly maintained, rendering the dental appliance useless.
Partial Dentures: Maintenance
Home care for partials includes removing the partial to clean under it after meals and before bedtime. Partials are designed to be removed while sleeping to prevent bacterial overgrowth that can affect your gum tissue’s health.
Bridgework must also be cleaned daily. But since they cannot be removed, special brushes and dental floss are used to keep the bridge and the surrounding teeth clean and healthy.
Partial dentures are frequently the best solution for replacing three or more missing teeth, including teeth that aren’t all located within a single area. This makes their application more flexible than bridges, which are usually limited to replacing one or two adjacent teeth that are missing in a single area.
In addition, it is possible to use a partial denture as a temporary appliance while saving money for a fixed bridge or an implant-supported crown. Just because you have chosen a less expensive option doesn’t mean upgrading to a fixed restoration in the future isn’t possible.
See Also: Bridge or Partial Denture: Which One Is Best for You?
Work With the Denture Experts
The caring professionals at European Denture Center will assess your specific needs, wants, desires, and consider your budget when developing a treatment plan that is right for you. Don’t just assume that you can’t afford to replace your missing teeth.
If you have missing teeth, address them before your other teeth show signs of shifting. Make your appointment today to speak with one of our team members and find the best solutions for restoring your beautiful smile!