When you are missing teeth due to an accident or decay, you have several options for replacing them. The two most common forms of tooth replacement are bridges and partial dentures. Most dentists will recommend that you have a bridge placed when possible, because bridges are placed permanently in your mouth and function more like natural teeth than partial dentures. However, how you replace missing teeth is a complicated decision that should be based on your personal habits and needs. Before you decide between a bridge and partial denture, you should discuss the following five points with your dentist.
The Upfront Cost of Each
In general, bridges tend to be more expensive than partial dentures. This is because of the work needing to be done on the teeth that will hold the bridge as well as the material itself. However, a high quality partial denture can sometimes cost as much as a low quality bridge. If a bridge seems to be beyond your budget, you may want to discuss options to make it more affordable, such as a payment plan.
Long-term Benefits of Each
Some people find bridges to have more long-term benefits because they allow you to eat more naturally than partial dentures. They also do a good job of keeping your natural teeth in place, whereas partial dentures may allow your teeth to shift slightly over the years.
However, other people find dentures to be a better solution because it is easier to add additional teeth to the denture if you have problems with other teeth in the future.
To determine the long-term benefits you would receive from each option, you should consider what dental work you may need in the next 5-10 years, as both bridges and dentures tend to last around 10 years.
Your Hygiene Habits
Most dentists suggest dental work with the understanding that you are going to complete the recommended amount of brushing and flossing and go into the dentist for annual exams. However, unless you lost your teeth due to an accident, you may have poor dental hygiene or a naturally higher amount of oral bacteria that makes you more susceptible to tooth decay. It is important you are realistic about whether you can change your hygiene habits, and whether a change will have a positive effect on your remaining teeth.
If you find it difficult to remember to brush and floss on a daily basis, you may find it is easier to clean a removable partial denture. If you have decent oral hygiene habits, then a bridge may be more comfortable for you.
Expectations for Your Oral Health
If you are a younger patient and have no history of losing teeth, then a bridge can allow you to replace your teeth in a way that does not interrupt your life, including your daily routine, your appearance, and your eating habits. However, if you are an older patient and the teeth that are near your missing teeth are in poor condition, then you may consider a denture, as other teeth can easily be added to the denture as you lose them, until you eventually replace your partial denture with a full denture.
Your Eating Habits
Unlike a full set of dentures, partial dentures do not allow you to bite as easily as natural teeth, even if they fit well. Alternatively, bridges will give you a similar ability to chew and tear food as natural teeth. In either case, your ability to eat food will depend on the placement of the bridge or denture and how it is anchored to your mouth.
Your dentist can give you helpful advice on more about this topic with a clear picture of your oral habits, so they can suggest a dental bridge or a partial denture.