Partial Dentures vs. Dental Bridges

Dentures are one of the most tried and true ways to replace all of your missing teeth at one time. Even today, dentures (full and partial alike) continue to be popular with our Mesa patients.

When to Get a Denture or Partial

Is it time for you to get a full or partial denture? If you have multiple missing teeth, then you may qualify. By design, these customized prosthetics are fitted in a way to restore all of the teeth in one arch (upper or lower jaw) with a single appliance. They’re bonded together and formed to the natural anatomy of your mouth. Most people choose dentures because of how quickly and affordably they can be made. They’re a great choice if you don’t qualify for dental implants.

If You Need Any Teeth Extracted

The first rule in smile restoration is preserving natural teeth whenever possible. If you have teeth that can be repaired with other types of treatments, that’s usually the best thing to do. We typically don’t want to extract sound, healthy teeth. So, if you’re thinking “I just want to have all of my teeth pulled and replaced with dentures”, that might not actually fit the standard of care. Although today’s dentures are high quality, they’re just not the same as having natural teeth.

All of that being said, if you do require multiple tooth extractions due to severe gum disease, decay, or trauma, we can arrange to incorporate those treatments into your denture design experience.


The Number of Teeth That are Missing

Full dentures (also called “plates”) replace all of the teeth in that arch. Whereas partial dentures only replace the teeth that are already missing, and wrap around the healthy teeth you still have. Typically, we don’t recommend extracting a few teeth just to progress from a partial to a full denture. It’s usually only one you need over the other. 

Deciding Between a Full or Partial Denture 

Partial dentures tend to be a bit more stable than full dentures, in that they wrap around existing teeth and have a little extra support. They also take up less space in your mouth, meaning they tend to be easier to adjust to when it comes to eating and speaking.

Full dentures can also be successful, but you want to be sure that you only need them if all of your teeth need to be removed (or are already missing.) Today’s denture wearers also have the option of adding dental implants underneath them for added stability. Depending on the version that you’re getting, some are removable overdentures that snap on and off, while others are permanent hybrid appliances (like “All-on-4”) that never come out of your mouth. 

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Before you rule out other treatments like dental bridges or implants, you want to talk to a Mesa dentist who looks at your oral anatomy firsthand. Together you can weigh the advantages of each option with your goals to help you select which one will be best. It might be that you have your heart set on a partial denture, but you’ll be happier with something like implants.

The cost of partials and dentures make them an affordable way to quickly replace missing teeth. So even if you’re hoping for a more permanent solution in the future, they offer great interim results.

Long Term Maintenance

Depending on the type of partial denture you’re having made, it may be easier to adjust or add teeth to it in the future. Some aren’t that way, so be sure to discuss it during your consultation.

With dentures, you may occasionally need the entire prosthesis “re-lined” to ensure it fits properly. Since the plate rests directly against your arch and roof of mouth, changes in your oral anatomy can affect the overall fit. Having it relined every few years will extend how long it fits. But after some time, the denture will need to be replaced with a new one.

Most partial dentures have a metal framework as their base, but full dentures tend to be crafted out of solid acrylic. Because of the design, they’re both maintained or adjusted in different ways. What’s possible with a partial denture may not be the case with a full arch denture (such as stabilizing them on top of dental implants.) 

Request a Consultation in Mesa

Eastport Dental provides a comprehensive menu of tooth replacement options, ranging from partial dentures and plates to implant-supported dental prosthetics. If you’re curious about the best smile restoration option for your needs, call our Mesa dentist today to request a consultation.

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