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Man smiling and holding partial dentures

Dental Bridge vs. Partial: Which One is Right for You

Losing teeth is never a fun thing to experience. Whether it was an accident, or your dentist recommends that you get a tooth extracted, parting ways with your teeth can be a difficult process. After all, we’ve had the same teeth for almost our whole lives, so a very personal part of us gets taken away when we lose our teeth.

It is impossible to stick a lost tooth back into place, there are ways to replace missing teeth so you can continue chewing with ease and not feel limited to just eating soft foods. This is where a dental bridge or a partial may be useful, as they are both reliable dental appliances to help you chew and smile after losing teeth.

Why are dental bridges and partials important?

Having missing teeth can put a damper on your smile and make you feel self-conscious about how you look. However, there are other ways these gaps can affect you. It’s important to get a dental bridge, a partial or another type of filling for missing teeth because they can eventually lead to more problems with your mouth. Teeth that surround the missing gap can start moving into the space, and you may also experience pain from the extra stress on your teeth and jaw.1 Additionally, missing teeth can lead to problems with biting and make it more difficult to chew food, and it can be irritating to try eating foods while avoiding gaps between missing teeth.

What is a dental bridge?

The most common causes of missing teeth are gum disease, tooth decay or mouth-related injuries.  A dental bridge can be used to fill in gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. A bridge is usually made of crowns on either side of the missing tooth or teeth supporting the pontic (or false tooth) and is cemented in place.1 Because the false teeth are cemented into place, they can only be removed by a dental professional. A dental bridge has abutment teeth, or anchoring/supporting teeth, and pontics in between. It acts as one complete structure with three or more teeth (depending on what is needed) that your dentist will insert and cement into place.1

There are four main types of dental bridges to choose from. These types include:1

  • Traditional fixed bridge: This bridge type is the most common. It has two or more crowns and a filler tooth (or teeth) that are all connected, and the crowns keep the bridge in place.
  • Cantilever bridge: In this type, the pontic only connects to one abutment tooth. Cantilever bridges are often used on people who have teeth on only one side of the gap.
  • Resin-bonded bridge (known as a Maryland bridge): This bridge type is typically made with porcelain fused to metal or ceramic teeth and are often used for missing front teeth.
  • Implant supported bridge: This type is similar to a traditional fixed bridge but is supported by implants instead of being cemented in place.

What is a partial?

Partials (or partial dentures) are plates with one or more false teeth on them that are made with plastic, metal or a mixture of the two.2 There are many different types of partials made with different materials to choose from, including light alloy partials and plastic partials. Consult with a dentist to know which type works best for you. Partials are typically held together by metal frameworks and can easily be inserted between missing gaps so you can maintain a good-looking smile and strong jaws.

Partials require specific maintenance and care when they are removed from your mouth each day. The general rule of caring for partial dentures is to soak them and brush them every day to remove bits of food that get between them.2 When brushing your partials, use a non-abrasive partial cleanser like Polident ProPartial Foam Cleanser rather than standard toothpaste. ProPartial foam is a gentle and fast-acting way to help remove stains and plaque, and leave your partials feeling fresh and clean.

Dental bridge vs. partial

While both dental appliances are good ways to fill gaps that lost teeth have left behind, each solution works differently, depending on your circumstances. The best way to find out which appliance works best for you is to consult with your dentist, as they can take a look and give you suggestions on what might work best based on the conditions of your remaining teeth. 

Pros and cons of dental bridges and partials

Dental bridges are cemented in, so they can be cleaned regularly. However, dental bridges can only be used if the teeth on either side of the missing ones are healthy.1 Dental bridges should also not be inserted immediately after a tooth extraction, since it takes roughly six months for the gums to heal properly after a tooth has been removed.2 Partial dentures are more invasive than dental bridges and require a good amount of maintenance, but typically cost less than other solutions. Unlike dental bridges, partial dentures cannot be worn overnight and must be taken out prior to bedtime.2

Everyone’s situation is different, and no solution is better than the other. Browse through the Polident website to learn more about dentures and partials and to discover more partial cleansing products.

Source Citations:

  1. Dental Bridges. Cleveland Clinic.  Accessed 9/1/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
  2. Bridges and partial dentures. Oral Health Foundation.  Accessed 9/1/2021. See source doc for referenced text.