Partial Dentures Explained

If you’re missing one or more teeth but have some natural teeth remaining in your upper and lower arch, a partial denture might be the right solution for you. Partial dentures replace your missing teeth and provide support for adjacent natural teeth, helping to restore the function of your mouth and improve your smile. Like any tooth replacement option, there are pros and cons to this treatment. It’s important to consider your options before making a decision to determine whether a removable partial denture or a fixed partial is the best option for you.

Removable Partial Dentures

The most common type of partial denture is a removable one. It consists of a plastic base that’s designed to match the color and texture of your gum tissue, with metal clips that secure to your natural teeth, explains the American Dental Association. This type of partial can be affixed with either precision or standard attachments, which your dentist will explain to you. The metal clasps may be visible, so you should discuss this with your doctor if aesthetics are an issue for you.

Alternatively, you could opt for a precision partial denture, which has internal attachments that slide into preparations on the adjacent natural teeth, according to the ADA. This type of partial is less noticeable than a traditional cast metal partial, and it also eliminates the need for metal clasps. But be aware that these types of attachments can increase the number of places where plaque can collect, and they may require more time to clean.

Another option is a fixed partial denture, which is similar to a bridge but it fills in the gap where your missing tooth or teeth are located and doesn’t need to be removed at night. This type of restoration is available in a permanent fixed bridge or an implant-supported fixed bridge, and it can help prevent the shifting of your existing natural teeth that can occur when a gap is left untreated.

A fixed partial denture can also help to preserve your remaining natural teeth by reducing the stress they experience due to the bite pressure from the missing tooth, which can cause them to wear down and potentially lead to further tooth loss. Leaving the gap unfilled can also lead to other oral health problems, such as gum disease and bone loss. This is because the teeth that surround the gap will shift to fill it, resulting in misalignment and crookedness. This is why it’s important to visit a qualified dentist or prosthodontist to learn more about your tooth replacement options and find the best partial denture for you. You should also ask your doctor to explain the benefits and drawbacks of each type of partial so you can make an informed decision.