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What is the difference between partial dentures and bridges?

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Quick Answer

Partial dentures contain a metal or plastic framework that clasps or rests on bone and gum tissue, and it is molded to fit false teeth around natural teeth, MedicineNet states. Bridges fill small areas with false teeth and place supportive crowns on the two teeth adjacent to the gaps.

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What is the difference between partial dentures and bridges?
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Full Answer

Bridges usually replace no more than three teeth, which must be lined up in a row, according to MedicineNet. Since partial dentures are customized to each patient’s oral structures, they can replace several teeth that aren’t directly adjacent to one another. While bridges are permanently cemented in place, partial dentures are removable, and dental specialists often transition patients from temporary to long-term appliances when designing custom dentures.

To install bridges, dental specialists must recontour the enamel of the supporting teeth, or abutments, to make them fit inside the crowns, WebMD explains. Next, the dentist obtains impressions of the recontoured teeth and sends them to the dental lab, which uses those impressions as a mould to create the actual bridge. In the meantime, the patient may wear a temporary bridge to protect the exposed teeth and gums.

Dentists often prescribe partial dentures for patients who have at least one natural tooth in the upper or lower jaw that doesn’t need to be removed, according to WebMD. The precise molding of partial dentures also helps to prevent the surrounding natural teeth from shifting out of position. Individuals remove their partial dentures daily, usually overnight, to clean the underlying gum tissue and allow it to heal. In some cases, dentists recommend adhesives to make dentures fit comfortably and securely or to improve adhesion in patients with dry-mouth conditions.

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