What is a “bridge” and what is a “partial”? Let’s quickly dispel the misinformation that is out there, because the two terms seem to be used interchangeably by most people. A “bridge” in dentistry typically refers to a restoration that is cemented into place, and may have as little as 2 teeth or even 14 or 16 teeth attached together that replace missing teeth. A “partial” denture is typically a removable appliance that attaches to the adjacent teeth with metal or acrylic clasping to hold the partial denture in place, which also replaces missing teeth.
Of the two, partial dentures are a lot cheaper – and they do need replacement much more often than ever takes place, thus the number of ill-fiting partial dentures out there! Partial dentures also trap food and can cause irritation to the gum tissue, and they are a lot more difficult to keep clean than a bridge.
Understand that when you hear “bridge”, it is a dental restoration that is cemented to the teeth and considered a permanent or long-lasting restoration. A partial denture it is not cemented or attached to the teeth in a permanent manner. That’s a huge difference.
Most people enjoy the benefits of having a “bridge” versus a “partial denture” and often ask me why it was not offered as an option by a previous dentist, of course which has no answer. Nevertheless, a “bridge” is an answer to a prayer, and the ease of use, cleanliness, and esthetics make it the preferable option for most.