Dental bridges and partial dentures

Replacing missing teeth is important.  The gap left by a missing tooth can mean more strain is put on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your bite is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and change the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Having a dental bridge or partial denture to fill a gap in your teeth can also give you a more aesthetically pleasing appearance and enhance your self-confidence as well as increasing chewing efficiency and improving your speech.

How missing teeth are replaced is dependant on the number missing and where these teeth are in your mouth. The condition of the remaining teeth will also affect the options given.

What are the main ways to replace missing teeth?

  • A fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used when there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
  • Removable false tooth (or teeth), called a partial denture.
  • Dental implants. This is where an artificial root is placed into the bone of the jaw and a crown or bridge placed on top of this. Read more about teeth implants here.

Who creates the bridges & partial dentures for Clinic 95?

We're pleased to work with dental technician John Davies of the John Davies Dental Laboratory.

Dental bridges

There are two types of bridges.

  1. A dental bridge: is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the gap, and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. This is all made in the laboratory and then the pieces are cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge can't be removed.
  2. An adhesive bridge: This has 'wings' that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth, with very little drilling needed.

Can you have a bridge fitted straight after having a tooth removed?

It can take up to 6 months for your gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means that you may need to have a temporary denture before the bridge is fitted.

Who is a bridge suitable for?

You can have a bridge only if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. The dentist will help you decide if a bridge is the best way of replacing your missing teeth.

What are bridges made of?

Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal.  Sometimes other non-precious metals are used in the base for strength. Zirconia bridges are made entirely of a special type of strong ceramic.

How do you look after a bridge?

You will need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. The dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.

Partial dentures

What is a partial denture?

This is a plate with one or more false teeth on it. It may be all plastic or a mixture of metal and plastic. Both types may have clips (clasps) to help keep the denture in place in your mouth. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may show when you smile or open your mouth.

What is the difference between a plastic partial denture and one that contains metal?

Plastic partial dentures are less expensive to manufacture. But unless they are designed very carefully they can damage the teeth they fit against.

Metal partial dentures are usually made from an alloy of cobalt and chromium, and they are much stronger. They are lighter to wear and can be supported by the remaining teeth. Although the base is metal, they have gum-coloured plastic and natural-looking teeth fixed to them. They are more expensive than plastic ones.
Metal dentures also allow temperature to be transferred which makes the eating process seem less alien as with the plastic dentures.

How can you make the right choice from the options available?

We'll work very closely with you to assess all your options.  You will be guided and advised by the dentist, who will review the condition of your remaining teeth and help you to reach the right decision. In most cases a metal-based partial denture gives the best result.

Did you know..?

Before the era of the toothbrush people used to use twigs.  The twig would be cut to expose the soft interior and the bark peeled back slightly, willow twigs being the most effective.  Gwyneth Paltrow can be seen cleaning her teeth this way as the character of Lady Viola in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

How to look after your denture

The general rule is: brush, soak and brush again, being careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface. You can clean your denture over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop it.

You should brush the dentures before soaking them, to help remove any bits of food. Using an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher – you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Use your regular toothpaste and a small- to medium-headed toothbrush. Make sure that you clean all the surfaces of the denture, including the surface which fits against your gums. This is especially important if you use any kind of denture fixative.

If you notice a build-up of stains or scale, it’s time to have the denture cleaned by our dental team.

Should a denture be taken out at night?

The dentist may recommend taking out the dentures at night to give the mouth a chance to rest. If you do this, it is important to leave it in water to prevent any warping or cracking.

What other methods are there for fixing false teeth?

There are other options, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so ask your dentist about them.
And of course, you can have false teeth attached directly to the jawbone - known as implants.  The success of this technique means you may be able to replace missing teeth without crowning other teeth.

Bridges & partial dentures cost

All our guideline prices are on our treatment costs page, where you can also find details of our finance deals, including 0% finance for treatment plans over £500.