The world of dental restorations is indeed an interesting one. Especially with the many options on the market. For the uninitiated, one might still think of false teeth when we talk about dental care restorations. But while artificial teeth do play a significant role in various tooth replacement options, there’s much more to cosmetic dentistry than that. Knowing the unique features of each option could help clear up much of the confusion, particularly the difference between dentures and bridges.
At a glance, the difference seems quite clear. For one, there’s the matter of how these restorations are applied. A fixed bridge “bridges” the gap between two teeth using one or several false teeth, and as such, use the adjacent teeth as an anchor. These natural teeth are then shaved down to fit the crowns attached to the artificial tooth. But here’s the thing—dentures, particularly partial dentures, do the same thing. They also anchor to adjacent teeth to replace any missing teeth in between.
If both restorations aim to bridge any missing teeth gaps, then how do they really differ? And is a bridge a denture? To answer these questions, let’s get into the difference between dentures and bridges.
You can remove a partial denture, but not a fixed bridge
While both restorations make use of false teeth, the biggest difference between dentures and bridges is whether you can take them off. To understand this, we have to look into how both these restorations are made. Partial dentures—whether they have a metal or acrylic base—are usually molded around your existing natural teeth, allowing for easy removability.
Fixed bridges, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. Also called fixed partial dentures, they anchor themselves to adjoining teeth, once a bridge is placed, you can no longer take them off. When you install a dental bridge, you shave off a lot of the tooth enamel off the adjoining teeth and place a crown on them. From there, you can no longer take the restoration off, unless you need adjustments.
You remove less tooth enamel with a partial denture
Because partial dentures are removable, there doesn’t have to be a lot of changes made to the natural teeth surrounding the gaps. For dentures with acrylic or Valplast base, these changes can be non-existent. All you need, after all, is to ensure that the dentures can hang onto your teeth and gums. At most, your dentist might shave a little off your healthy teeth to let the base clasp better onto them.
With dental bridges, however, you might need to totally shave down the healthy teeth during installation to fit the dental crowns.
Fixed bridges are more stable than partial dentures
Despite the drawbacks fixed bridges have, what gives them an advantage over partial dentures is their stability. While permanence is what sets the difference between dentures and bridges, it’s also what gives dental bridges an advantage. The stability provided by the crowns on either side makes it less likely for the artificial tooth to fall out or move when you eat or do other activities.
Dentures, on the other hand, may afford a level of stability, but because of their nature may not feel as natural to the bite. And because they’re removable, you’re more liable to lose them as compared to fixed bridges.