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Dentistry/5 Tooth Bridge - Numbers 11-15


I currently have a five tooth bridge numbers 11-15. Number 11 (an abutment tooth has developed decay (second time)).  What alternatives do I have and what are the pros and cons along with costs.

1. Have implants done - 2 or 3?

2. Have a removal bridge built

3. Have a High Bridge by shaving number 11 again and cutting the gum and making a higher bridge into the gum line

thanks for your time, efforts and advice

Dear James,

You've got a lot of choices.  Without only the information you've given me, I can't make your decision for you.

You already know what a bridge is.  So you pretty much know what you'll be getting.  What #11 needs is probably a crown lengthening procedure [CLP].  The dentist will remove some gum tissue to expose healthy tooth that is below the gum so that a well-fitting crown can be made to hold a new bridge.  Doing this will end up giving you what you're used to (a cemented bridge).

Implants will likely be more expensive, and will take longer to complete, as the bone around newly placed implants requires seveeral months to heal before crowns can be made over them.  Where there are missing teeth, and your jawbone is sufficient, implants are the ideal.  98% of the time, they anchor to your jawbone more strongly than natural tooth roots.  And they cannot decay, as they are made of titanium.

If you can wait about 6 months until your case can be completed, and your jawbone will allow them, implants are the best choice.  But I would still advise you to keep #11 to use it for a single crown.  Your dentist will have to determine how many implants you should have based on how many teeth are missing and how much space there is between 11 and 15.  Then a single crown on 15.

A removable partial, although least expensive, is my last choice for you.  Once you have had a cemented bridge, getting used to a removable partial can be difficult.  It is far less natural-feeling than a bridge.  And the clasps (wires) that hold it in place tend to loosen teeth and/or cause them to decay.

I hope I helped you with your decision.  Let me know what happens.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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