Partial Denture Guide (Types, Care & Maintenance)

Dr. Matthew Hannan | My Dental Advocate
Partial dentures | Removable Dentures | Different Designs | My Dental Advocate

Before the invention of dental implants, partials and bridges were the primary methods for replacing missing teeth.

They’re still used today, and it’s an affordable option for replacing teeth.

Partial dentures, also known as removable partial dentures (RPD) or removable prostheses, are used to replace missing teeth in an arch.

They’re fabricated using varying materials, which we’ll analyze in this article. Partials are unique in that they can fit around your remaining teeth using metal or acrylic clasps.

On the other hand, complete dentures rely on undercuts, adequate suction, and gravity to stay in place.

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Types of Partial Dentures

The three most commonly used partial denture materials are metal, acrylic, and thermoplastics. Often, your clinician will favor one material for various reasons; however, don’t be afraid to inquire about the other types.

Metal Partials Pros

  • Gold Standard
  • Great durability
  • Adjustable metal clasps
  • Replaces many teeth
  • Teeth can be added

Metal Partials Cons

  • Metal is unsightly
  • Requires 4+ visits
  • Technique sensitive

Acrylic Partials Pros

  • Least expensive option
  • Esthetic
  • Simple to repair
  • Extremely light and flexible
  • Fewer appointments needed

Acrylic Partials Cons

  • Least durable option
  • Clasps are uncomfortable
  • Flexes when chewing
  • Non-adjustable clasps
  • Clasps are weak and brittle

Thermoplastic Pros

  • Most biocompatible
  • Most esthetic
  • Ultra-thin and flexible
  • Accurate fitting

Thermoplastic Cons

  • Uncomfortable clasps
  • Difficult to adjust
  • Difficult to repair
  • Most expensive option

Understanding Partial Dentures

All partials clasp around adjacent teeth; however, the teeth support metal framework partials, whereas the gum tissue supports the other two options.

Therefore, if your adjacent teeth are weak and lack adequate bone support, an acrylic or thermoplastic partial may be better so the teeth don’t receive destructive forces when chewing.

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Also, patients with acrylic or thermoplastic partials are more prone to develop sore spots because the partials apply more significant pressure to the sensitive tissue.

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Partials are prone to be lost or damaged. Dogs won’t eat your homework; they will eat your partial. Also, don’t be surprised if food traps around the clasps or under the appliance.

Fortunately, partials are cleansable because they’re removable.

Be sure to leave your appliance in a denture cleaning solution when it’s not in your mouth to preserve and protect the material. Lastly, keep it in a spill-proof safe container, so dogs, children, or others don’t accidentally knock it over.

Partial Denture Care & Maintenance

Partial denture inside glass with toothbrush on the top | Denture maintenance | My Dental Advocate
  1. Place a towel on your countertop or fill your sink with water to prevent your denture from being damaged if you drop it.
  2. Remove partial denture and rinse with cold water as hot water may warp your partial.
  3. Brush your denture with a denture cleaner or non-abrasive toothpaste to remove food deposits, plaque or denture adhesive.
  4. Rinse your partial in warm water before re-inserting, or if you are done for the night, place it in a container filled with water or denture solution.

Avoid whitening toothpaste or household cleaners to clean your partial as they may stain or damage it. Also, daily cleaning will prevent stains and odors from forming.

Be sure to gently clean around the clasps as they’re more prone to bend or break. Gum tissue may become irritated or infected if the partial is not removed when you’re sleeping.

It’s recommended that the partial is removed for at least 6 hours per day.

Considerations

It’s not uncommon for patients to receive their new partial excitedly only to return days later frustrated that they can’t eat with it.

Setting the bar at the right height is essential when going over expectations. It requires time to become comfortable with the new appliance.

Eating and speaking will be challenging for the first 4-8 weeks.

When you first receive your partial, we recommend using it for a few hours per day the first week. Increase the period in the subsequent weeks to limit sore spots and to become comfortable with your new appliance.

Sore spots are expected, so don’t be alarmed if you develop them. Your tissue constantly changes depending on hydration, health, and other factors.

Also, it will have been many weeks since you took the initial impression so minor adjustments will be needed. Your clinician will most likely schedule a follow-up visit within 72 hours to verify that it fits appropriately and adjust areas.

Denture adhesive may be necessary around the sore spots for comfort or proper retention and fit.

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My Experience & Expertise

Some patients are content with a removable appliance, whereas others will desire a more permanent option, such as a bridge or implant.

Partials commonly replace teeth because they’re durable, predictable, and affordable.

Do you need a partial, or has your clinician told you that you need one? Are you interested in other options that the dentist did not discuss with you?

My Dental Advocate’s team of board-certified dentists can provide a second opinion on your planned treatment. We look forward to bringing you peace of mind by verifying your treatment plan, suggesting an alternative, or answering your questions.

Need a second opinion? We can help! Learn more. Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!

About the Author

Dr. Matthew Hannan, also known as “Dr. Advocate,” is a board-certified dentist on a mission to provide accurate dental patient education. He attended Baylor University before completing dental school at UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry. He now lives in Arizona with his beautiful wife and 4 kids. Dr. Hannan believes everyone should access easy-to-read dental resources with relevant, up-to-date dental research and insight to improve their oral health.

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