Partial Dentures – In-Depth Review

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Jade Roberts

Table of Contents

Overview

removable partial denture

Partial dentures are false teeth that fill gaps in the mouth between natural teeth. These appliances have false teeth that are attached to a base. The teeth are made from an acrylic compound and colored to look like natural teeth. The base they sit upon has the appearance of pinkish gums or palate tissue.

Partial dentures are a partial set of false teeth as opposed to a full denture that replaces a complete row of missing teeth. Partial dentures are often the best solution when there are only a few missing teeth and healthy teeth exist on either side of the gap created by the missing teeth.


Summary

There are several positives and negatives to partial dentures. Here is a review of a few of the main advantages and disadvantages:

Positives

Partial dentures are an affordable solution compared to complete dentures where only a few missing teeth require replacement.
Partial dentures are often a better option when replacing a missing tooth in the bottom jaw as opposed to removing all teeth for a full denture.
Partial dentures can have additional teeth added to them if needed.

Negatives

Partial dentures may increase plaque build-up on the abutment teeth leading to tooth decay.
Partial dentures may move and shift enough to cause trauma to abutment teeth and gums.
Like full dentures, partial dentures require removal each night.

Types of partial dentures

There are two main types of partial dentures: removable and non-removable. Let’s take a closer look at each category.

Removable

Several types of partial dentures fall under the category of removable. They include:

Cast Metal Partial Dentures

cobalt chrome denture partial denture

These are a common style of removable partial dentures. They feature high-quality resin teeth attached to gum-colored acrylic with a precision-fit metal framework. The metal framework is often made of cobalt chrome or titanium and is extremely comfortable and fits perfectly.

Flexible Partial Dentures

A nylon-based resin is used to create the denture base and the structural support for flexible partial dentures. This material is thin and lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear. The clasps that attach to natural teeth are gum-colored making them blend with existing soft tissue.

Flipper Partial Dentures

Made of either acrylic resin or flexible Valplast, flipper partial dentures are a fast and cost-effective way to replace one or two missing teeth. These are generally used in the front of the mouth where missing teeth a visually obvious, and typically fill the gap created by 1 or 2 teeth.

Acrylic Partial Dentures

Made from pink acrylic resin and attached to natural teeth by metal clasps, acrylic partial dentures are typically used as temporary replacements for missing teeth. They are intended to permit patients to perform normal tasks with their teeth until a permanent partial denture solution is available. These partial dentures typically fill the gaps made by 3 or more missing teeth, which are not always in a row.

Acetal Resin Partial Dentures

These are similar to cast metal partial dentures but are far more visually appealing. Acetal resin partial dentures feature a frame and clasps made from tooth-colored resin which permits the appliance to blend in better when held in place.

Hybrid Partial Dentures

This is a combination of the Valplast flexible and cast metal partial dentures. What makes hybrid partial dentures so attractive is that the clasps are made of tissue-colored material and they offer a comfortable fit.

Non-Removable

Here is a closer look at the non-removable style of partial dentures:

Fixed Bridge Partial Dentures

This type of partial denture stays in place and is not removed. Fixed bridge partial dentures rely on crowns placed on the natural teeth on either side of the appliance to hold it in place.

Snap-In Overdentures

Snap-in dentures include tooth-supported and implant-supported options. For implant-supported partial dentures, a titanium implant is inserted into the jawbone to function as the root for a dental attachment. Implant-supported partial dentures are the perfect solution where only a few teeth are missing, and a full denture is not considered to appropriate treatment. For tooth-supported overdentures, the denture sits over the top of natural tooth structures.


Partial Denture Pricing

The cost for removable partial dentures ranges between $650 and $2,500 for either an upper or a lower. The price doubles for both. Flexible partial dentures cost between $900 and $2,000. Flipper teeth are priced between $300 and $500. Fixed partial dentures top the pricing scale at anywhere between $1,500 and $6,500.


Other Types Of Dentures

Other types of dentures are available. Some of the common options include the following:

Traditional Complete Full Dentures

If a complete row of teeth needs replacement, this is the logical solution. Traditional complete full dentures sit on top of the gums and require the removal of all a patient’s teeth. This procedure is usually performed between 8 and 12 weeks before receiving full dentures.

Custom Dentures

The use of more expensive materials results in a better-looking, and better-fitting denture. As these are custom-made, they should be comfortable and easy to get used to wearing.

Immediate Dentures

When a patient has all of their teeth removed and dentures are placed later the same day, these are known as immediate dentures. They are meant to be a temporary solution until permanent dentures are available. Immediate dentures are intended to be worn no longer than 6 and 8 months.

Economy Dentures

These dentures are not custom-fit for a patient and are generic. They are often held in place with a dental adhesive and are made from low-quality materials causing them to look fake. Regardless, for patients on a tight budget, economy dentures are a good option to consider.


Parts

There are two main parts to partial dentures. The main piece is the framework. This is what rests on the gums or is attached to adjoining teeth with clips. The other main piece is the artificial teeth that are attached to the framework. The clips or attachments are what hold partial dentures in place.


Material

Partial dentures are made from an acrylic resin base with artificial teeth added to it. Some partial dentures also contain a metal framework made from cobalt chrome. Partials are made to fit from precise measurements and molds taken of your mouth.


Procedure

The process that your dentist follows to create your partial dentures is far less complicated than the procedure required for complete dentures. First, your dentist will take a few impressions of your teeth. This may include jaw measurements to ensure a proper fit. With this information, your dentist can contact the lab that builds partial dentures, and the creation process begins. Once completed, you will visit your dentist once more for a fitting. That’s all it takes!

However, implant supported partials are more complex as they require dental implants to be inserted into the jaw.


Ages

Partial dentures can be worn by people of all ages. Partials are typically more common in younger people aged 45 years or less whereas full dentures are more common in people older than 45. Dentures may be a suitable solution for patients in their 20s or 30s depending on the specific situation.


Appearance

Partial dentures are designed specifically to look like natural teeth. Depending on the quality, sometimes it is very hard to distinguish false teeth from natural teeth. The lower the quality, the more fake they may appear.

If a person wearing a partial denture has no problems eating certain foods or speaking without the denture moving around in their mouth, then you probably won’t be able to tell that they are wearing a partial denture.


Getting Used To Them

Partial dentures take some getting used to simply because you are placing something in your mouth for most of the day that does not naturally belong there. However, partial dentures are far less bulky than full dentures. This makes partials a bit easier for many wearers to get comfortable with. A normal adjustment period is between four and eight weeks.

To help, when speaking, speak slowly at first to give yourself time to form the sounds with your mouth. Eating may require switching to softer foods for a while. Your mouth may experience soreness, but this will eventually disappear.


Keeping In Place

Generally speaking, partial dentures that are implant-supported or use clips or clasps connected to adjoining natural teeth should stay in place. However, over time, things tend to get loose and may not retain a tight fit. This is when a denture adhesive may help. Dental adhesives are well known to be used with full dentures, but they can also be used with partials.

There are many different types of adhesives such as pastes, powders, gels, and pads. Zinc enhances the adhesive properties of these products and is normally an ingredient in them. Dental adhesives are simple to use and require a specific amount of the product to be applied to the partial denture. Suction within your mouth assists adhesives in doing their job properly.


Care

Cleaning partial dentures takes a bit of effort. The more you care for them, the longer they should last. It is important to note that caring for partial dentures is very different from caring for natural teeth. Here is a short list of the steps you should follow:

Before You Start To Clean

Partial dentures are durable, but they can crack, break, or chip if dropped. Therefore, it is a good idea to either fill a sink with water or drape a thick towel over a countertop. These measures will help cushion the dentures should they slip out of your hand and fall.

Rinse

After you remove the partial denture from your mouth, run it under warm running water from a tap. As you rinse the appliance, gently rub away any visible food particles.

Clean

There are three effective cleaning methods. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for use with dentures. Using your denture brush, carefully brush as you would your natural teeth paying particular attention to areas that would otherwise be hard to reach if the partial dentures were still in your mouth. Do not use a regular toothbrush as the bristles may damage your partial dentures.

Use a denture toothbrush with denture toothpaste is another method of cleaning. It is essential to avoid using regular toothpaste as the formulas used contain abrasives that can scratch or develop grooves in your false teeth.

The final cleaning method involves an ultrasonic denture cleaner. This unit utilizes ultrasonic waves that vibrate tiny particles from the partial dentures. An ultrasonic cleaner has a tank that you place your partial dentures into which contains either water or a cleaning solution. Do not leave them in the cleaner for more than a 15-minute cleaning cycle.

Soak

The material dentures are made from is porous which requires them to stay moist at all times to prevent drying out. Dentures that dry out become brittle and easy to damage or may warp out of shape causing them to fit improperly. This is why it is vital to soak your partial dentures overnight in a container of water or a soaking solution made specifically for dentures.

Rinse, Again

After you have cleaned your dentures, be sure to rinse them again. This will remove any material that is still on them after brushing and soaking.

Brushing (The Rest Of Your Mouth)

Just because you have cleaned your dentures does not mean you are finished cleaning. It is also best to brush the rest of your mouth, including all remaining natural teeth. If you use denture adhesive, there may be bits of it still clinging to your gums or palate. Be sure to carefully brush all parts of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush.

In The Morning

Before you put your partial dentures back into your mouth, rinse them once more under warming running water.


Whitening

Denture material is different from that of natural teeth. Over time, dentures may change color, but they do not respond that well to whitening products that are typically used on natural teeth. One way to prevent your partial dentures from losing their bright, clean, fresh look is to avoid foods and beverages that can cause staining. This includes coffee, wine, tomato, or grape products. Smoking will also contribute to discoloration. And always follow a good denture cleaning routine to help avoid discoloration.


Storage

Partial dentures must remain in a liquid when they are not being worn. This prevents them from drying out. You can use a drinking glass filled with water or a denture-soaking solution. There are also various denture cases and containers available in the marketplace that are specifically designed to hold dentures.


Comfort

Partial dentures should feel comfortable once you get used to wearing them. Changes within your mouth, such as the positioning of the natural teeth that the partials use as anchors may shift position over time. This will require adjustments to the partial dentures and how they attach to adjoining teeth.

Generally speaking, partials are good for your dental health as they normally assist in keeping the remaining teeth from moving around in the gum tissue. However, your teeth will move over time which will require a visit to the dentist to correct the fit or your partial denture.


Repair

Should you damage your partial dentures in any way, it is best to have your dentist repair them. Although there are over-the-counter repair kits available, they may contain chemicals that may be harmful to your health. These repair kits are designed to provide a temporary solution. Taking your partial dentures to your dentist for repair is sensible as the dentist will have the correct tools and materials for the job.


Sleep

You should never sleep with partial dentures. Although you may be able to sleep while wearing permanent partial dentures, it is still a recommendation to remove them at night. The main reason is to give your mouth and gums a break from holding the dentures all day.


Lifespan

Partial dentures, if taken care of properly, can last up to 15 years.


Foods

Just like full dentures, some foods are difficult to eat with partial dentures. They include foods that require hard biting to consume or foods that may either get stuck in or under the dentures causing mouth or gum irritations. The foods to avoid are nuts, apples, popcorn, and carrot sticks. Sticky foods may dislodge partial dentures and should also be avoided.


Smoking

Inhaling tobacco smoke may cause mouth or soft tissue irritation. This can result in swelling, sensitivity, and inflammation. These conditions could impact how your partial dentures fit in your mouth. Also, the smoke from tobacco can change the color of your dentures making them look dull and dirty.


Other Issues

Several other issues can be related to wearing dentures. They are as follows:

Dry Mouth

The production of saliva can be reduced in the mouths of some denture wearers. This is known as dry mouth, and it can be prevented through the sipping of water or sugar-free beverages to stay hydrated.

Stomatitis

This is a common problem with wearing dentures. Also known as thrush, stomatitis develops as part of poor dental hygiene and is easy to remedy. By keeping the mouth clean and using anti-fungal agents, stomatitis can be avoided.

Gagging

Dentures sometimes slip and can slide onto sensitive tissue causing a gag reflex. While this is more common with new denture wearers, the problem tends to go away after the wearer gets used to having the dental appliance in their mouth.

Taste Affected

Some partial denture wearers complain that foods taste bland when wearing dentures. As taste buds are located on the tongue, there should be no impact resulting from wearing partial dentures. Taste may be slightly affected though, if you suffer from dry mouth.


Interesting Facts

If You Live In Vermont…

There exists a law on the books in the state of Vermont that concerns dentures. The law states that women living in Vermont must first obtain written permission from their husbands before they are permitted to wear dentures. This is an outdated law, but it has yet to be stricken from the record.

Dentures Have A Long History

Dentures have been around for a very long time. They date back to Ancient times with the oldest surviving complete set of dentures coming from Japan. They were made in the 16th century. Dentures have also been found in archaeological digs in Mexico and Egypt.

Legendary Dentures Debunked

It was said that George Washington wore dentures made of wood. That was not true. He did have dentures, but they were not fashioned out of wood. His dentures contained various other components including gold, elephant ivory, hippopotamus tusk, and human teeth.


FAQs

How Will I Know I Need A Partial Denture?

If you are missing more than three teeth in a row, have decaying teeth, or have lost several teeth due to trauma of some kind, a partial denture may be the best solution. Your dentist can advise you on the best way to correct any dental problem.

Which Is Best… Partial Dentures Or Complete Dentures?

Partial dentures are the best solution when you are missing just a few teeth. If you are missing a complete row of teeth or must have all of them removed to treat another oral hygiene problem, complete dentures would be a wise choice.

Do I Need All My Teeth Removed For Partial Dentures?

No. Partial dentures are a good solution when you have one or more teeth missing, but not if you have a number of healthy teeth remaining. If a dentist thinks that full dentures are the best solution, then you may need all your teeth removed.

How Are Partial Dentures Made?

The process to make partial dentures is similar to, but not as complicated as manufacturing complete dentures. An impression is made of your gums, measurements are taken, and from this data, the lab creates your partial dentures. Once they are completed, another visit to the dentist’s office is required to ensure the fit is correct.

Is Sleeping With A Partial Denture A Good Idea Or Not?

Although there is a type of partial denture that is intended to be permanent, dentists advise that it is a good idea to remove partial dentures when sleeping. The primary reason is to give your mouth and soft tissue a break from holding the partial dentures in place all day. Plus, with partial dentures, you do not want to have them dislodge when you are sleeping and either fall out of your mouth or slide down towards your throat.

How Long Can Partial Dentures Be Worn?

Partial dentures are designed to be worn when you are awake and active. While they are designed to be and function as permanent replacements for missing teeth, you should always remove them overnight and let them soak in a cleaning solution. By removing dentures at night, you aid in the oral health of your mouth and give it a rest from the workout it gets during the day with partial dentures in place.

Is It Painful To Get Partial Dentures?

There may be some discomfort at first as your mouth gets used to the foreign object you have put into it. It may also take some adjusting to feel clips or clasps on natural teeth that are used to hold some partials in place. Over time, this will ease, and you won’t notice when you are wearing your dentures.

How Do I Keep Partial Dentures In My Mouth?

The design of partial dentures is interesting in that they typically rely on natural teeth on either side to act as an anchor holding the partial in place. Sometimes that is accomplished with a clip or a clamp that fits around a natural tooth and is colored to either match your teeth or gums, so they blend in. For implant-supported partial dentures, they snap into place with the implants serving as the anchors.

Is It Hard To Get Used To Eating With Partial Dentures?

You will have to take your time getting used to eating with partial dentures. Start by chewing on smaller bites and chewing them slowly. Once you get accustomed to how your partial dentures feel with food in your mouth, you can work your way up to eating normally. You may also find that some foods are too difficult to eat now that you are wearing partials. It may mean having to alter your diet slightly to accommodate this change. You will notice this, particularly with sticky foods, hard foods, and foods that require you to employ a sucking action when consuming.

Can Partial Dentures Be Repaired?

Partial dentures can be repaired depending on the type of damage. A small chip in the plate or a broken tooth can be easily fixed. You can temporarily repair these issues with DIY kits that are readily available at your local pharmacy. Serious damage such as cracks, splits or damaged clips, will require the attention of your dentist to correctly repair.

How Much Do Partial Dentures Cost?

flexible partial denture

The pricing depends on several factors ranging from what material is used to manufacture them to how many teeth you are replacing with a partial denture. Generally speaking, removable partial dentures cost between $650 and $2,500 for an upper or a lower. Flexible partial dentures are priced from $900 and $2,000. Flipper teeth cost $300 to $500 and fixed partial dentures cost $1,500 to $6,500.

Can My Dentures Match My Teeth Color?

The denture maker (prosthodontist) is skilled in color-matching and will do everything possible to make your false teeth and plate look like your natural teeth and gums.

What Do I Do If My Implant Screws Become Loose?

Implant-supported partial dentures snap into place with implants that are inserted into the jawbone. They are intended to remain in place and provide a strong anchor to partial dentures. If your partial dentures become loose as a result of a problem with the inserted screws, your dentist can remedy the problem.

How Do I Prevent Dry Mouth?

A reduction in saliva production will be the cause of a dry mouth. You can keep this from happening by sipping on water or sugar-free beverages to stay hydrated.

Is Kissing Possible With Partial Dentures?

Provided your partial dentures are securely in place, you can kiss without a problem. If your dentures match your existing teeth in color and shade, it is possible that whoever gets this close to you will not be able to tell that you have false teeth.

Is Chewing Gum Okay With Partial Dentures?

Gum is a sticky substance. As a result, it is one of the many food items denture wearers have problems chewing. The main reason is that chewing gum can sometimes pull a partial denture out of place. This is also possible with other sticky foods like toffy. You may find it better to quit chewing gum altogether if it causes you problems.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Partial Dentures?

For individuals who have missing teeth, the advantages of partial dentures are greater than the disadvantages. Here is a short list of both to give you an idea to help you with your decision if you are considering false teeth:

Advantages
Partial dentures will restore your smile which will increase your confidence.
Partial dentures will permit you to eat more than just soft foods.
Partial dentures will improve the way you look to others.

Disadvantages
Partial dentures are fragile and require specific care and cleaning.
Partial dentures are costly and may be out of the reach of those individuals with limited incomes.
Partial dentures can be damaged and have a limited lifespan.


In Conclusion

With partial dentures, you can easily replace missing teeth. To find out exactly what type of partial denture is best for your situation, visit your local dentist. Or if you have any further questions, let us know in the comments below…

About Jade Roberts

After having a lot of dental issues when she was younger, and years of restorative dental work, Jade knows how difficult it is to find the right dental information. This forced her to do countless hours of research and connect with dental experts all over the world to find the right information. Learning has made her passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience so that others don't have to go through the same issues. "If I make any recommendations in the articles on the False Teeth Options website, it is because my team and I have researched and/or tested the products ourselves, and would be comfortable recommending them to our own family and friends. I'd love to hear of your experiences. So if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch."

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