“I am a dentist in Roseville, CA. Your questions are good ones. In general, the three options for replacing missing teeth are implants, bridges (or fixed dentures) and partials (removable dentures). They all have advantages and disadvantages. You said you do not want bridges, so we’ll rule that one out.
The advantage to implants is that it is like having your own teeth. They don’t come out, and you can chew normally on them. But they are the most costly option.
The advantage to partials dentures is that they are the most economical option, especially if you are replacing multiple teeth. But they are removable, which means they tend to trap food underneath them when you are eating and you cannot chew as hard on them, since they are at least partially supported by the gum tissues. I call them “gum mashers”.
Most people adapt well to partial dentures, but there are some people who don’t and end up putting them in the drawer to be found years later. Unfortunately, the only way for you to tell how YOU will do with them is to get a set.
If you do decide to get partials, there are three types. A metal framework partial is the strongest and longest lasting and you can chew the hardest on them, since the metal framework transfers some of the chewing force to adjacent teeth. An acrylic and wire partial is the least expensive, but it is strictly a gum masher so you can’t chew very hard on them. A flexible partial is often the most comfortable to patients initially, and they can be made to get some support from the remaining teeth, but not as much as a metal framework partial, and they don’t last as long. Plus, if you ever lose more teeth in the future, they are the hardest to add teeth to.
As for only replacing teeth on one side, I don’t recommend it. I know some dentists make them, but they are not as stable and can be a choking hazard.
I hope this information helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to visit our website. You can contact me there.