Losing a tooth can be a difficult experience that can significantly impact your oral health. Fortunately, different tooth replacement options are available, including permanent bridges and removable partial dentures. These two options have pros and cons, and choosing the right one can take time and effort. In this blog, we will discuss the differences between these two options and help you decide which is best suited to your needs.
Definition and explanation of permanent bridges
A dental bridge is a replacement option for those who have lost a tooth or teeth due to an injury, gum disease, decay, or other oral health problems. A bridge consists of abutment teeth on either side of the gap and a false tooth (pontic) in the gap. A permanent bridge is a type of bridge that is cemented in place and cannot be removed, like a removable partial denture. Getting a permanent bridge involves preparing the adjacent teeth on either side of the gap by removing some of the enamel and taking impressions of your teeth to make a mould for the bridge. The bridge is then custom-made to fit your mouth and your existing teeth.
Advantages of permanent bridges
One advantage of permanent bridges is that they are stable and durable, cemented in place and do not move around like removable partial dentures. Permanent bridges can also be custom-made to match the colour, shape, and size of your existing teeth, which makes them look natural.
In addition, permanent bridges can improve your oral health by filling the gap between your teeth, preventing the remaining natural teeth from shifting, and reducing the risk of gum disease.
Disadvantages of permanent bridges
One of the disadvantages of permanent bridges is that they are more expensive than removable partial dentures. The procedure of getting a permanent bridge is also irreversible, as the adjacent teeth will need to be prepared to fit the bridge, which can cause potential damage to the remaining natural teeth. In addition, if the bridge is not properly fitted or maintained, it can cause discomfort or decay in the surrounding teeth.
Examples and visual aids
Different types of permanent bridges are available, depending on the location and number of missing teeth, such as traditional bridges, cantilever bridges, Maryland bridges, and implant-supported bridges. Conventional bridges are the most common type of permanent bridges, where two adjacent teeth support the false tooth. Cantilever bridges are used when there is only one adjacent tooth. Maryland bridges are used for the front teeth and are supported by a metal or porcelain frame attached to the backs of the adjacent teeth. Implant-supported bridges are considered the most stable and durable type of permanent bridge and involve placing dental implants in the jawbone to support the bridge.
Removable Partial Dentures
Definition and explanation of removable partial dentures
Removable partial dentures are a type of dental prosthesis designed to replace missing teeth. They consist of one or more false teeth attached to a gum-coloured plastic or metal base that sits on your remaining teeth and gums. Partial dentures can be removed for cleaning and are an excellent alternative for people seeking an economical way to replace their missing teeth.
Advantages of removable partial dentures
Affordability: Removable partial dentures are less expensive than dental implants or bridges.
Non-invasive: With removable partial dentures, there is no surgery or invasive dental procedures required, making them an excellent option for people who are not suitable candidates for dental implants or bridges.
Easy to clean: Removable partial dentures are easy since you can take them out and clean them separately.
Disadvantages of removable partial dentures
Less stable: Removable partial dentures may feel less stable, unlike fixed bridges or dental implants, since they are not permanently fixed in place.
Can cause discomfort or soreness: Some people may experience pain or soreness with removable partial dentures, particularly if they have remaining natural teeth.
May need periodic adjustments: Over time, the fit of removable partial dentures may change, necessitating regular adjustments by a dental professional.
Examples and visual aids
A dental or fixed bridge is an example of permanent tooth replacement. It involves placing a false tooth or teeth between two dental crowns and cementing the entire structure onto adjacent teeth. On the other hand, a removable partial denture is an example of a non-permanent tooth replacement. It may consist of one or more false teeth in a gum-coloured base that attaches to your existing teeth with metal clasps or precision attachments.
Which option is right for you? Factors to consider
Before deciding on permanent bridges or removable partial dentures, consider the following factors:
Permanent bridges are more costly and made from high-quality materials such as porcelain or zirconia. Removable partial dentures, on the other hand, are cheaper and may be covered by dental insurance.
Bridges and partial dentures have different impacts on oral health. For instance, bridges require removing healthy tooth enamel from adjacent teeth to fit the false tooth. This can weaken healthy teeth and increase the risk of gum disease. Additionally, brushing and flossing under the bridge may be challenging, leading to decay and bad breath. Partial dentures, on the other hand, attach to existing teeth, leaving them intact. However, they may cause discomfort or soreness if not fitted properly.
Permanent bridges are fixed and require no maintenance, making them more convenient. On the other hand, removable partial dentures must be taken out frequently for cleaning, which some people may find unpleasant. Bridges may look more natural, while partial dentures may be noticeable.
Comparison Chart of Pros and Cons
We’ve compiled a chart below to help you compare the pros and cons of permanent bridges and removable partial dentures.
- Permanent solution
- Looks more natural
- No need for daily removal and cleaning
- More costly
- Requires healthy adjacent teeth to be filed
Removable Partial Dentures
- Easier to maintain oral hygiene
- No need for healthy adjacent teeth to be filed
- May cause discomfort if not properly fitted
- Need to be removed and cleaned daily
- Less natural-looking
- May cause bad breath
Suggestion to Consult with a Prosthetist for Personalised Recommendation
Choosing between permanent bridges and removable partial dentures is a personal decision that depends on individual preferences, oral health, and budget. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult a dentist for a personalised recommendation. A prosthetist will examine your teeth, conduct X-rays, and recommend the best option based on your condition.
Permanent bridges and removable partial dentures are excellent options for replacing missing teeth, but they differ in invasiveness, stability, and cost. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and making the right choice depends on several factors, such as the health of the remaining natural teeth, the number of missing teeth, and personal preference. Consulting our prosthetists can help you ensure that the right option is chosen, leading to improved oral health and enhanced quality of life. Contact us now to schedule your first appointment!
Crowns or Bridges (Fixed Prosthetics)
Bridges, implants, and dentures