Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

Tooth Replacement Options: Partial Denture or Bridge?

by Brett Clark

If you are missing some teeth, but not all of them, you might be looking for ways to replace those teeth. It is important that you do find a replacement, as this ensures the natural teeth don't move around too much, not to mention restoring your smile and your bite. Two popular options for replacing more than one tooth is with either a fixed bridge or a partial denture. Here are some things to think about when deciding which option is good for you.

Do you want a removable or fixed mouth piece? 

The main difference between a partial denture and a fixed bridge is that the bridge is cemented in place, while the partial denture can be removed. Partial dentures are similar to full dentures, except they are only for a few missing teeth and not an entire arch of missing teeth. You will need to remove them daily to clean them, and take them out before bed. With a fixed bridge, it is cemented to the neighbouring natural teeth by being attached to crowns. If you want something that won't move around and that you don't have to remove, a bridge is probably a better option.

Are you okay with filing down your nearby teeth?

One thing to note about a fixed bridge is that it affects your remaining teeth. To fix it to your teeth, your dentist needs to file down the adjacent teeth, get impressions, then have dental crowns made. These crowns provide the anchor for the bridge of artificial teeth for replacing your missing teeth. The filling down is not reversible, so if you are not 100 percent confident in your choice, you might want to choose a partial denture instead.

What does your budget look like?

Also consider your budget since these procedures might not be covered by your dental insurance plan. If not, be aware that fixed bridges often cost more than partial dentures. This is due to the extra work and materials involved, and the cost of the porcelain crowns that hold the artificial teeth in place. If you are on a limited budget, consider going with the partial denture. However, if you have a more flexible budget, you may find that the fixed bridge is good for you.

What is your comfort level for dental procedures?

Another reason you may want to lean more toward a partial denture is because it requires less work in the dentist's chair. Perhaps you have dental anxiety and you want the tooth replacement process over quickly. With dentures, you simply need to have impressions made, then you just wait for the dentures. With the bridge, you go through more steps to get the crowns and artificial teeth, then the cementing of the fixed bridge.