Dental implants are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to dentures and bridges. How do these options compare, and how can you choose the right option for you?
Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge
The most common option for a single tooth is the fixed bridge. This involves grinding away healthy adjacent teeth (which damages them) to attach and support the bridge. The tooth-supported bridge does not stimulate natural bone growth beneath it, so it is still possible that the jawbone will deteriorate over time. Bridges will usually fail after around five to ten years of wear. This happens because the patient will have difficulty flossing them, which makes the roof surface below and around the bridgework more susceptible to decay.
Removable Partial Dentures
This kind of dentures don’t require grinding down any adjacent teeth, which has the advantage of not damaging surrounding teeth. However, this also means that they are not as stable or as comfortable as dental implants. They can also affect speech and eating.
Another bonus of partial dentures is that they are less expensive than other options, as they don’t look as natural or work as well as implant-supported crowns. The bone underneath a removable partial denture may deteriorate over time, which will change the appearance of your smile and face.
These are sometimes also called a Maryland Bridge. A resin-bonded bridge is sometimes considered for replacing front teeth that can’t cope with the biting and chewing demands of back teeth. The bridge has wings on each side which are attached to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap. This doesn’t usually involve preparing these teeth by grinding them, or any other teeth, down, which is better than over options.
A resin-bonded bridge looks a lot more natural and functions more effectively than a classic removable denture. However, this option is not as strong as fixed bridgework and usually won’t function as well or for as long as dental implants.
Removal Complete Denture
This style of denture sits on some of the gums where the missing teeth were. They can be uncomfortable and can impact your ability to fully experience the taste of food. The denture can also cause sore gums, or move in the mouth as you smile, cough, or yawn.
The initial costs of having a removable denture are low, but this kind of dentures usually only last on average for seven to fifteen years, and the replacement costs can become significant in the long-term. You will need to remove your dentures regularly for cleaning, which will be time-consuming and be a hassle. As with partial dentures, the natural bone underneath the denture can deteriorate over time, which can permanently change the appearance of your face and smile.
Deciding which option is the right one is a matter of personal choice. Depending on how many teeth you’re missing, your budget, and the amount of maintenance that you’re willing to do, the best option will vary. You can ask your dentist for advice, to help you to choose which option will be the best.