Partial Dentures

A partial denture is designed to replace one or several missing teeth. You may consider a removable partial denture to replace the missing teeth, if:

  • you have missing teeth
  • the remaining teeth cannot accept a fixed bridge
  • there is not sufficient bone for implants
  • finances are limited

Removable partial dentures have been made by dentists and worn by patients for many years. Partial dentures are composed of three different materials. A cast metal base with clasping arms holds a pink plastic gum tissue and plastic or porcelain teeth. The metal clasps are silver in color and, depending on the individual circumstances, may or may not be visible when you talk or smile. These clasps are absolutely necessary to hold the partial in place. Their location and design are dictated by the shape and position of your remaining teeth and which missing teeth will be replaced. We will show you where the clasps are to be located in your mouth. Most of the time, the amount of preparation (drilling) of your natural teeth needed to ensure successful clasp design is minimal. Often there is no need for a local anesthetic injection. This is unlike fixed bridgework, which always requires significant tooth reduction for proper design and fit.

If you find that the appearance of the clasps will be objectionable, then you might consider different possibilities. It is common to place crowns on the teeth that are clasped by the metal arms, and then place the clasps inside the crowns. This will give you a more natural appearance, but it will add to the ultimate cost of treatment. It involves significant preparation of the natural tooth and you might also want to rethink about fixed bridges or implants.

The base of the partial denture will rest lightly on your gum tissue. At some time in the future it is expected that you will need adjustments to the base. Usually this means an addition of more pink material to the denture base. Clasp arms will loosen and need to be tightened at various times. Weight loss or gain will also affect the fit of the base of the partial.

Although a partial is less expensive than a fixed bridge, which is metal and porcelain cemented into place, there are several possible drawbacks. It is much more bulky than a bridge and is more difficult to wear initially. You may have to adjust the way you speak to accommodate the extra bulk. After awhile, this will not be much of a problem. And depending on the position of the retaining clasps, they may be visible when you talk or smile.

Do not sleep with the partial dentures in place. The partial dentures absolutely must be removed during sleep time to be cleaned and give the clasped teeth a chance to rest. The gum tissue under the denture needs a chance to breathe and reestablish proper blood circulation. The partial denture can compress the tissue and reduce blood flow in the area. Plaque can accumulate on your denture and your gum tissue. Use a very soft toothbrush to gently brush your gums. Also brush your partial denture daily with a denture brush and denture cleanser. Always store your partial denture in water when you are not wearing it.

If you have any questions about removable partial dentures, please feel free to ask us.