If you have missing teeth caused by decay, trauma, or gum disease, you are not alone. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, over 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Understandably, this can be a source of insecurity; however, missing teeth can also cause remaining teeth to shift out of alignment and can make chewing or biting certain foods even more challenging. Fortunately, modern-day dentistry has provided individuals who are interested in improving the aesthetics and the functionality of teeth a variety of restoration choices, including partial dentures and dental bridges. Although both of these dental appliances can contribute to a better smile and improve how your teeth function, there are a few key differences worth noting. In this article, we will detail a few of these differences, allowing you, the prospective consumer, to decide which option is right for you.
What Are Partial Dentures?
When it comes to restoring tooth function and improving the overall appearance of your teeth, many dentists will recommend partial dentures. These appliances are comprised of false teeth, which are attached to a metal frame. It is important to note that partials can be removed, making them much easier to clean compared to that of a fixed bridge. Although they can be removed, it does not mean they are not structurally sound. In fact, the metal framework that supports the false teeth makes it easier to enjoy many of the foods that you would otherwise have to avoid like crisp, delicious apples or corn on the cob, for example. From a cost perspective, partials can be as low as $700 but can exceed $4,000 for those who opt for cast gold fixed partial dentures.
Downside of Partial Dentures
While there are several benefits associated with partials, there are some downsides as well. Although they can withstand the pressure of biting down on hard foods, partials are fragile and can be easily broken once you have removed them. That said, you will need to be especially careful while cleaning them as this is when they are most likely to be damaged, often due to being dropped. Lastly, partials, like most dental appliances, may take a little getting used to before you will feel comfortable wearing them.
Cleaning Partial Dentures
One of the things that make partials an enticing choice is that they are easy to keep clean, which, of course, has a lot to do with the fact that they are removable. Generally speaking, they can be cleaned with a soft-bristled toothbrush and regular dish soap or a dedicated denture cleaner.
What Are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge is another great option for those interested in improving the appearance and function of their teeth. These dental appliances are attached to your natural teeth on either side of the space where a natural tooth once existed. The process involved in placing a dental bridge requires that the dentist file down the natural teeth on either side of the space where there is a missing tooth or teeth.
This step ensures that the dental appliance is not only secure but also capable of withstanding the force that comes with biting down and chewing on certain foods. Once the teeth have been filed down, the dentist will then take an impression of the patient’s teeth, which will be sent to a dental lab that will create the false teeth along with the crowns needed for the bridge.
In most cases, this process can take several days. So the patient may have to schedule a second appointment for the final placement, which is when the dentist will cement the dental bridge to the patient’s natural teeth.
Downside of Dental Bridges
When it comes to the downside of having a dental bridge, there are not too many. However, it is worth noting that the cost of these appliances can be significantly higher than that of partials. Also, food is more likely to become trapped in-between teeth and along the gum line with these types of appliances. Nonetheless, most people would agree that this is a small price to pay for having teeth that look great and allows them to enjoy their favorite foods. Of course, there is also something to be said for the self-esteem boost that comes having great looking teeth.
Cleaning Dental Bridges
Because a dental bridge is a fixed appliance, cleaning them is no different than cleaning your natural teeth. For healthy teeth and to extend the life of your dental bridge, you should brush twice per day and use floss to remove plaque buildup. Similar to cleaning partials, it is also a good idea to use a soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing to avoid damaging the false teeth and crowns that make up the bridge.
For more information on either of these appliances, contact us today.