Partial Dentures

A partial denture, commonly just referred to as a “partial”, is a removable appliance used to replace missing teeth. Along with implants, it’s the only choice left if you’ve lost all the back teeth on either or both sides of your jaw, upper or lower. Also, a partial can be used to replace missing teeth if you can’t afford a bridge. The main differences between a fixed bridge and a removable partial are:

  • The price.  If the same number of teeth are involved, partials generally will be less expensive.
  • Performance.  Partials are removable; bridges aren’t. The partial is attached by clasps to the abutment teeth.  In some cases, if the natural teeth aren’t the right shape to properly hold the clasps, the abutment teeth must be crowned. If the partial doesn’t have a back tooth to support the replacement teeth, it must rely on the abutment tooth and the saddle-like denture base (which holds the false teeth in place and sits on the jawbone to provide support while chewing). Therefore the partial is not as strong as a bridge, places more stress on the abutment teeth, and is less efficient for chewing than a fixed bridge.
  • Durability.  If they are both made correctly and you maintain them, a bridge will usually last much longer than a partial.
  • Aesthetics.  Even the best-made partial denture isn’t as appealing as a bridge. The clasps usually show, and the place where the denture base overlaps the jawbone ridge can be unsightly.
  • Maintenance.  The partial denture is easier to clean than a bridge because it can be removed. But the denture base will periodically have to be relined ( new material added to the underside of the denture base) and the clasps adjusted to keep the proper fit.