What is a partial denture?

A partial denture is a type of dental prosthesis that is designed to replace one or more missing teeth. Some partial dentures are designed to be installed and worn permanently, while others are removable. Removable partial dentures, also known as RPDs, are designed to be removed and cared for by the patient. Fitting a partial denture takes time and numerous visits to the dentist's office to check the fit and make adjustments, as the denture must fit perfectly for the patient's comfort.

Several different styles of partial dentures are available. Temporary partial dentures, known as flippers, are made of acrylic with wire loops to hold the denture in place. They tend not to look as realistic as other types of dentures, but they can be useful when a denture is needed in a hurry, or when a patient is being fitted with an immediate denture. Other types are made of cast metal and other materials that are designed to be attached to various clips, such as precision fixtures, that are designed to be hidden so that the denture appears more natural.

Fixed partial dentures, also known as dentures or bridges, are fixed in place rather than designed for removal. Proper placement of a fixed partial denture is important, as a dentist does not want to accidentally damage the jaw, gums, or remaining teeth with an ill-fitting bridge. For this reason, patients may wear temporary dentures while their bridges are designed and fitted, allowing time for the shape of the mouth to settle.

During the life of the patient, numerous follow-up appointments will be needed to verify the fit of the denture. The shape of the mouth changes over time, which can cause a partial denture to shift position or become uncomfortable. These appointments give the dentist the opportunity to adjust the denture or recommend locations for a damaged denture. They may also include routine dental care, such as x-rays and teeth cleaning to keep your mouth in good shape.

Care instructions for a partial denture vary, depending on the denture. Some dentures are designed to be brushed in the mouth with a soft toothbrush or dental toothbrush, while others are removed for cleaning in a denture cleaning solution. Many removable partial dentures are designed to be worn throughout the patient's day so that they do not experience embarrassment as a result of missing teeth, and some can be worn continuously for extended periods.

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