If you are missing one or more teeth in the same area, you may have heard of “partials” as a potential treatment option. Partials can refer to either removable partial dentures or partial fixed bridges.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are a type of conventional denture that is used for patients who still have some or most of their natural teeth. A denture is a set of prosthetic teeth set in an acrylic base, which is held in place against your gums using suction. While complete dentures are used for patients who have lost an entire arch or both arches of teeth, partial dentures can be used for patients who still have some healthy teeth remaining. Removable partial dentures often feature a metal framework and clasps that attach to the remaining healthy teeth.
Partial dentures are a good option for patients who do not want to undergo surgery. Dentures are also more affordable than other restorative treatments such as crowns, bridges, and dental implants. However, your jaw will change shape over time without natural teeth supporting it, meaning that dentures will stop fitting properly and need to be replaced every few years. Dentures also need to be removed at night for cleaning, which some people find frustrating or even embarrassing.
Partial Fixed Bridges
Partial fixed bridges are rows of prosthetic teeth that are secured in place by crowns on both sides. The bridge consists of however many artificial teeth or “pontics” required to bridge the gap, and then crowns that cover the healthy teeth known as “abutment teeth” on either side of the gap. Unlike a removable partial denture, a partial fixed bridge is permanently secured in place using dental cement. Bridges can also be secured through the use of one or more dental implants, which act as artificial tooth roots.
Fixed bridges have a few advantages over dentures in that they are permanent, they prevent jawbone deterioration and facial collapse, and you can care for them just like your natural teeth. However, they are more expensive than dentures, more invasive if you get an implant-supported bridge, and they require healthy enough abutment teeth for the crowns to attach to. Call our office today to discuss which option is right for you.