Made to replace one or more missing teeth in an arch
About Removable Dental Bridges
Removable bridges or removable partial dentures are appliances made to replace one or more missing teeth in an arch. Removable bridges all use the same type of tooth material but are differentiated by the materials used to hold the teeth to the partial denture and the way the partial denture attaches to the two (or more) teeth left in the arch (upper or lower.)
Dental Bridge Options
Temporary Acrylic Removable Partial Denture
Known as the “Flipper” in dentistry, this is generally the least expensive alternative to replacing missing teeth. Some flippers will have a wire clasp to help attach the acrylic base to the teeth while others will have no clasps at all. These types of removable partial dentures have an acrylic base made exactly the same as a complete denture. The biggest benefit of this type of removable partial denture is that it can be made before any teeth are removed and delivered the same day as the extractions are done. Then, if more teeth need to be removed later, teeth can be added easily and economically to the flipper.
Cast Framework Partial Dentures
As the name implies, these are partial dentures which have a cast metal framework supporting denture acrylic and teeth. These partials are mainly tooth supported and retained and are therefore extremely stable. The metal framework is cast extremely thin and is therefore much less noticeable than the acrylic framework partials. The clasps are designed to retain the partial in place and the teeth are altered slightly to allow the patient to bring their teeth all the way together without interfering with the clasps. This also makes it possible to place the clasps in positions which are less visible than wire clasps. The cast framework is also very strong and is less likely to break than acrylic, and since the metal does not rest on tissue, but on teeth, these partials do not sink below the level of the teeth. Finally, since there is little contact with the soft tissue, sore spots are not much of a problem.
Flexible Framework Partial Dentures
The newest types of partial dentures are made from a nylon-like material and are called Valplast (the most common) or Flexite partials. This material replaces the metal and acrylic of a standard partial denture. The clasps that hold the partial to the teeth are made of the same pink material and are generally indistinguishable from the gums, a very nice esthetic advantage. The material is also nearly unbreakable so it can be made quite thin, a distinct advantage over the acrylic framework partials.
Combination Metal Framework with Flexible Clasp Partials
For the patient with high esthetic demands who also needs the most stable framework possible, we are now able to make a metal framework with clasps made of the pink material used in Valplast or Flexite partials. This allows us to hide the clasps while alleviating many of the sore spot problems associated with flexible frameworks.
Cemented Dental Bridges
What is a cemented dental bridge?
A cemented bridge is a way to replace one or more missing teeth to help restore function and or esthetics. A cemented bridge generally requires at least one tooth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth to provide the attachment and support for the bridge. First, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth are prepared for crowns. A dental laboratory then creates a bridge out of one of three materials: porcelain fused to a cast metal framework, porcelain fused to a tooth-colored framework, or a full gold bridge. The teeth with the crowns serve as “abutments” to the bridge, and the missing teeth that occupy the space between the abutments are called pontics. The bridge connects all of the teeth, abutments and pontics.
A bridge is beneficial because it restores function and esthetics where needed. The loss of a tooth can cause a number of problems, including loss of chewing effectiveness, increased stress on the remaining teeth to “pick up the slack,” shifting of the teeth behind and above the tooth which is lost, leaving other teeth non-functional and continuing the cycle. And lost front teeth poses an esthetic dilemma for most people.
A cemented bridge is typically made in two visits, the first being the preparation appointment and the second the bridge insertion.
When a tooth is lost, you generally have three options for replacement: a cemented bridge, a dental implant, or a removable bridge/partial denture. The restoration generally compared to a cemented bridge is the dental implant because both of these restorations are fixed in place. Implants are becoming the restoration of choice in dentistry for a missing tooth for a variety of reasons, mainly associated with the fact that the teeth next to the missing tooth or teeth do not have to be prepared or “shaved down” to make room for the crowns.