Bridges and Dentures - What's the Difference?

Permanent tooth loss can often be avoided through good oral hygiene; brushing your teeth twice a day, using a mouth rinse, eating a healthy diet, and scheduling regular dental visits. However, poor oral care can lead to periodontal disease that often results in tooth loss. A traumatic event (e.g. car accident) can be a cause and certain illnesses (heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis) can also contribute to permanent tooth loss.

The pain and shame of permanent tooth loss isn't a circumstance you need to live with. You have two choices to resolve this issue: bridges and dentures.

What is a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. The dental bridge is made up of two or more crowns so that the natural teeth on either side of the gap securely anchor the bridge. Dental bridges can either be supported by implants or natural teeth.

The typical candidate for a dental bridge is a person who is missing one to three consecutive teeth. The surrounding teeth must also be healthy and free from decay. There are three main types of dental bridges: Traditional, Cantilever, and Maryland. Depending on your needs and the location of the gap and/or natural teeth, the appropriate bridge will be recommended.

Many people choose bridges because:

•  They still have many of their own natural teeth
•  Bridges are secure and durable
•  Bridges work with implants or natural teeth
•  Bridges restore functionality
•  Procedures are affordable

And thanks to advanced dental technology, your dental bridge can last 15 years or longer. The procedure will also look just like your natural teeth in shape, size, and whiteness.

What are Dentures?

When most people think of dentures they think of the term "false teeth." While that term is descriptive, the negative connotation also suggests the poor dental health of George Washington. Unfortunately, the need for dentures is growing with an estimated increase from 33.6 million in 2009 to 37.9 million in 2020 (only five years away). The need for dentures can vary, but two prime reasons include lack of preventive dental care (e.g. regular dental visits) and swollen/bleeding gums.

And unlike a dental bridge, dentures are recommended for severe or complete tooth loss. If you do not have enough natural teeth to support any type of bridge option, you're much better off having dentures.

Dentures come in two styles: full and partial. A full set of dentures consists of two custom-made plates with flesh-colored gums and a full row of top teeth as well as bottom. These dentures are taken out at night for cleaning. Partial dentures are used when some, but not all of your teeth are missing. Partials have connectors or a metal framework that attach to your permanent teeth. These too are taken out at night for cleaning.

The benefits of dentures include:

•  Your dentures are customized for your mouth
•  Dentures are natural looking
•  Dentures are long lasting
•  You can get your dentures aligned as needed
•  Dentures give natural definition to your face

One of the biggest concerns regarding dentures is getting used to the fit and function. We're happy to report that improved technology has even made the initial adjustment period for your dentures even easier.

Getting Proper Treatment and Advice

As a first step, you might find it helpful to ask friends and family how they like their bridgework or dentures. These recommendations can give you an idea of what to expect. However, in the end you will want to work directly with your dentist. Each patient's situation is unique and his or her needs can vary. You'll want to feel confident that you're making the best decision for your circumstances.

If you want more information on bridges and dentures, as well as advice on which would be most suitable for you, please call us at (512) 506-9889 today.

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