Partial Denture Guide: Types, Care & Maintenance

Dr Advocate Avatar IconUpdated: September 1, 2022
By: Dr. 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.

Recommended Reading: Top 5 Brushing Habits to Break in 2022


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. First, let’s take a closer look at how the materials stack up.


Metal framework partials

Pros

  • “Gold standard”
  • Superior longevity and durability
  • Metal clasps can be adjusted for tighter fit
  • Best for replacing many teeth
  • Teeth can be added to partial in the future

Cons

  • Metal can be unsightly
  • Requires four or more visits for impressions
  • Most technique sensitive option

Acrylic partials

Pros

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

Cons

  • Least durable option
  • Clasps can be uncomfortable and rub on tissue
  • Some patients don’t like the flex when chewing
  • Clasps can’t be adjusted
  • Clasps are weak and brittle

Thermoplastic partials

Pros

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

Cons

  • Clasps can be uncomfortable and rub on tissue
  • Difficult for dentist to adjust and polish
  • Unable to be easily repaired
  • Most expensive option

All partials clasp around adjacent teeth; however, metal framework partials are supported by the teeth, 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. 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.

Partials are prone to be lost or damaged. Dogs won’t eat your homework; however, 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 and 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 that 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.

Related: Best MDA Recommended Products


Final thoughts


Some patients are content with a removable appliance, whereas others will desire a more permanent option such as a bridge or implant. Partials are commonly used to replace teeth because they’re durable, predictable, and affordable. Are you in need of 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.


Dr Advocate Avatar IconAbout the Author

Dr. Advocate is an actual board-certified dentist with clinical practice experience and a mission to provide accurate dental patient education. He believes everyone should access easy-to-read dental resources presented in layman’s terms with relevant, up-to-date dental research and insight to improve their oral health.




Partial dentures | Removable Dentures | Different Designs | My Dental Advocate

Partial Denture Guide:
Types, Care & Maintenance

Dr Advocate Avatar IconUpdated: September 1, 2022
By: Dr. 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.

Recommended Reading:
Top 5 Brushing Habits to Break in 2022


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. First, let’s take a closer look at how the materials stack up.


Metal framework partials

Pros

  • “Gold standard”
  • Superior longevity and durability
  • Metal clasps can be adjusted for tighter fit
  • Best for replacing many teeth
  • Teeth can be added to partial in the future

Cons

  • Metal can be unsightly
  • Requires four or more visits for impressions
  • Most technique sensitive option

Acrylic partials

Pros

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

Cons

  • Least durable option
  • Clasps can be uncomfortable and rub on tissue
  • Some patients don’t like the flex when chewing
  • Clasps can’t be adjusted
  • Clasps are weak and brittle

Thermoplastic partials


Pros

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

Cons

  • Clasps can be uncomfortable and rub on tissue
  • Difficult for dentist to adjust and polish
  • Unable to be easily repaired
  • Most expensive option

All partials clasp around adjacent teeth; however, metal framework partials are supported by the teeth, 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. 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.

Partials are prone to be lost or damaged. Dogs won’t eat your homework; however, 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 and 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 that 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.

Related: Best MDA Recommended Products


Frequently asked questions (FAQ)


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Believe it or not, you have taste buds on the roof of your mouth. However, your upper partial may cover these up, causing you to have a diminished sense of taste. Many patients overcome this challenge and rely on their primary taste buds on their tongues.

Partials last between 15 and 20 years; however, many patients use them for 30+ years.

The cost ranges anywhere from $200 to $2,500. Of course, many factors are considered, such as insurance coverage, type of material, location of service, and expertise. Hopefully, you get your money’s worth, and your new partial will last for 30+ years.


Final thoughts


Some patients are content with a removable appliance, whereas others will desire a more permanent option such as a bridge or implant. Partials are commonly used to replace teeth because they’re durable, predictable, and affordable. Are you in need of 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.


Dr Advocate Avatar Icon
About the Author

Dr. Advocate is an actual board-certified dentist with clinical practice experience and a mission to provide accurate dental patient education. He believes everyone should access easy-to-read dental resources presented in layman’s terms with relevant, up-to-date dental research and insight to improve their oral health.



Related Topics


Dentures

Implants

• Oral Appliances


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