When Do You Need a Partial Denture?
Partial dentures are often necessary if you’ve lost some teeth due to:
- Severe tooth decay
- Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
- A facial or jaw injury
- Tooth extraction
- Poor dental care and natural aging
- Partial dentures are typically removable. Removable partial dentures consist of false teeth, a gum-colored base, and metal or plastic clasps.
These dentures can also be fixed into the mouth, which means they are permanent. Fixed partial dentures are also referred to as dental bridges.
Partial Dentures vs. Complete Dentures
Partial dentures replace a few missing teeth in your upper or lower jaw. If you still have some natural teeth remaining, removable partial dentures are an excellent option.
Complete dentures, also called full dentures or conventional dentures, are removable prosthetic teeth that replace your entire set of teeth. Full dentures are used when a patient has no teeth remaining in their upper and/or lower jaws.
Types of Partial Dentures
Partial dentures come in both fixed and removable forms.
The type of denture you need depends on your oral health standing, how many teeth are missing, and your budget:
- Removable Partial Dentures: Removable partial dentures are removable dental prostheses. If you still have some natural teeth in your mouth, your dentist will likely recommend removable partial dentures. There are three types of removable partials, including:
- Cast metal partial denture:
- A cast metal framework partial is the most common type of removable partial denture.
- Cast metal partial dentures consist of a gum-colored, acrylic base, and false teeth.
- The denture base is held in place by two or more clasps. The clasps can be made of either clear plastic, pink plastic, or metal (WIRONIUM®).
- Dentures with precision attachments (clear or pink clasps) cost more than metal clasps but are more aesthetically pleasing.
- A cast metal partial denture base is made of a mixture of several metals. This denture is lightweight, has a high degree of stability, and is resistant to plaque build-up (with proper care).
- Cast metal partials are an ideal choice for patients seeking a long-term solution.
- Flexible partial denture:
- Flexible partial dentures are made of a flexible plastic material.
- These dentures produce high aesthetic results and blend in with your natural teeth and gum tissue color.
- Flexible partials are an excellent choice for patients who are allergic to acrylic. Valplast is a well-known brand that creates flexible partial dentures.
- Flexible partial dentures cannot be repaired if they develop a crack or break. You must replace the entire denture.
- Flexible partials are typically only used as a temporary solution for missing teeth.
- Acrylic partial denture (flipper):
- An acrylic partial denture is often a temporary option that consists of a removable acrylic base, a plastic replacement tooth or teeth, and optional metal clasps. It's less effective and comfortable than a cast metal partial denture.
- Acrylic partials are the least expensive type of removable denture and are not meant to last a long time.
- Fixed Partial Dentures: Fixed partial dentures are also called fixed bridges. They are non-removable dental prostheses that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Common types of fixed partial dentures include:
- Traditional bridge: These consist of ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or all-metal-like gold. Traditional bridges have one or more fake teeth and two dental crowns on each side that hold the bridge in place.
- Cantilever bridge: A cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional bridge. However, this type of bridge only supports the fake tooth from one side.
- Maryland bridge: Maryland bridges are made of porcelain or gold. They have “wings” that bond to the adjacent teeth, which keeps the bridge stable. This type of bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth.
- Implant-supported bridge: Dental implants entirely support these bridges. They are ideal for patients who are missing three or more back teeth.