Choosing Between a Fixed Bridge and Removable Dentures

Choosing Between a Fixed Bridge and Removable Dentures
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If you are one of the many people who has suffered complete tooth loss or are facing tooth loss very shortly, you may have looked toward dental implants as a solution. These days, dental implants are frequently regarded as the gold standard for restoring missing teeth and especially as treatment is quite versatile. However, you may be a bit confused about the choices available and especially when restoring complete arches of teeth. It’s easy to think that the most sensible choice would be to have permanent teeth fitted, but it’s also possible to have removable teeth. 

When removable teeth are supported by dental implants, they are somewhat different from traditional dentures but still retain some similarities. To explain why one implant choice may be better than the other, it’s necessary to look at what happens after your natural teeth are removed.

How Tooth Removal Affects Your Jawbone

When someone has lost all their teeth, there is a chance they may have also suffered significant bone loss. This is because of the way your natural tooth roots support the bone around them. When you have your natural teeth, they are surrounded by living bone that is continually remodeling. Every time you bite on your natural teeth, the sensations are transmitted through the tooth, right through the tooth root and into the bone around it. These sensations ensure that when old bone cells begin to die off, they are continually replaced. 

After your natural teeth are removed, the sensations are lost so that when old bone cells begin to die, they are no longer replaced. Over time, this results in bone loss, and gradually the ridge that used to support your teeth will flatten and become narrower. These changes can significantly alter facial appearance because there is less support for your facial muscles. Also, they can affect dental implant treatment in the future.

Dental implants consist of a small post or screw that is surgically inserted directly into the jawbone. Once the implant post is in place, the new bone begins to grow around it and actually on the post. Gradually, over 3 to 6 months, the post or screw becomes firmly embedded into the jawbone. Once the post is fully integrated or fused in the bone, it is strong enough to support a new implant tooth which may be a crown, bridge, or denture. However, dental implants must be inserted into a minimum amount of healthy bone. 

If significant bone loss has occurred, the jawbone may be unsuitable for dental implants. There is a solution as the jawbone can be built up using sophisticated bone grafting techniques. While bone grafting is highly effective, it does increase the time required for treatment and, of course, the costs. This is why when you lose teeth, your dental implant dentist will always strongly recommend replacing them as soon as possible.

Why Dental Implants Are Special

Dental implants are quite special because they help to halt jawbone bone loss. Because a dental implant artificially restores a tooth root, it ensures the sensations created when you bite or chew food are transmitted to the bone, just like a real tooth root. When old bone cells begin to die, they will be replaced, so the significant bone loss that occurs after tooth loss is prevented.

When Are Fixed Teeth an Option?

If you lost teeth quite recently, it’s worth inquiring if a fixed bridge of teeth is a solution available to you. Your implant dentist can assess the quantity and quality of your jawbone to decide if there is enough bone to support the dental implants. Usually, a greater quantity of dental implants is needed to support a fixed bridge of teeth. The bridge can be permanently cemented onto the dental implants although often a fixed bridge is screwed onto dental implants. This might seem very strange, but it’s a practical solution. The bridge will have access holes for the screws, but these are covered up with tooth-colored composite resin, the same type of material used to mend cavities in natural teeth. 

If the bridge needs removing for any reason, for example, if it needs professional cleaning or repairing, or if your dentist wants to check your dental implants, it’s easy to uncover the screw holes and retrieve the bridge. A fixed bridge makes it easy to forget you ever lost teeth, but don’t automatically ignore a removable solution, as it can provide several quite significant advantages and certainly isn’t an inferior option.

When a Removable Solution Might Be Better

A removable set of teeth is very similar to an ordinary denture. The prosthetic is made from denture plastic and supports denture teeth. The denture has special attachments on the fitting surface and which clip firmly onto dental implants. Sometimes a bar is fitted onto the dental implants in the mouth, and the denture will clip onto the bar. Whatever the fitments, you can be sure your denture teeth will feel much more secure than before, and they cannot move or slip out of place. 

Also, your biting force is increased so you will be able to eat a larger selection of foods. When restoring an upper arch of teeth with a removable implant supported denture, the denture is designed in a horseshoe shape instead of covering the upper palate. This ensures the prosthesis is far less bulky than a traditional denture and it uncovers all those taste buds in your upper palate so food will taste that much better!

Although an implant-supported denture or overdenture is a bit like a traditional denture, it’s far more secure and affordable dentures options. Usually, an overdenture can be supported by relatively few dental implants. The implants are generally situated in areas where the bone is naturally thicker and stronger, toward the front of the mouth. This greatly reduces or frequently eliminates the need for more expensive bone grafting. Caring for an overdenture is simple because it’s removed for cleaning and this could be easier to care for compared with a fixed bridge.

Lots of people who have lost all their teeth are very happy with their implant-supported denture, even if they initially wanted a fixed arch of teeth. Ultimately, the decision is yours, and it’s worth discussing all the options in greater detail with your dental implant dentist.

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