Explaining Dental Partials

Why do we need to explain dental partials?  Mainly because they are one of the most common, yet least blogged-about, options for replacing missing teeth.  At Premier Dental of Ohio, we still provide this treatment option for our patients, and this blog will help you understand what you should know about dental partials.

What is a Partial?

The term “partial” is a shortened version of the dental restoration we call a Removable Partial Denture, or RPD.  When most people see the word denture, they envision a full plastic plate of teeth.  The word denture actually means a prosthetic (fake) tooth that replaces missing natural teeth.  A partial is a denture that replaces the missing teeth when someone still has multiple natural teeth remaining.  It is removable, not attached permanently to the teeth or jawbones.

A removable partial denture. It is made from an exact replica of your mouth in a dental lab.  It uses clasps to hold onto natural teeth in order to stay in place.  Partials also have pink material to replicate the gum tissues.

What are the Pros of Partials?

  • Partials are, by far, the least expensive way to replace missing teeth. The low cost is the reason they remain a relatively common dental treatment.
  • We can make partials in a relatively short amount of time (four to six weeks), and the visits are relatively short and simple.
  • Partials make a wonderful temporary tooth replacement, so they are great options for patients still growing or in the midst of a complicated dental treatment plan.
  • Partials are non-invasive, so they are a safe treatment option for patients with medical complications.

What are the Cons of Partials?

  • Partials clasp and rest on the remaining natural teeth. This causes those remaining teeth to bear more stress and force than they were made to bear.  Over time, these teeth experience greater wear and tear and become very susceptible to dental problems like cavities, cracks, and gum disease.
  • Because the teeth do not emerge from the gums, they may have a less-than-natural appearance. Partials do not provide the best cosmetic result for tooth replacement.
  • The clasps on a partial can loosen, causing the partial to fit poorly. This can lead to embarrassing movement of the teeth and sore spots on the gums.
  • Many people simply find partials uncomfortable and bulky.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Partial?

You must have at least a few healthy, stable teeth to support a partial.  If the remaining teeth are questionable, they will not hold up well under the increased stress of wearing a partial.

Aside from having healthy teeth to support a partial, the only other requirement is not having a strong gag reflex.  Some patients find the bulk of a partial intolerable due to their gag reflexes.

Because of its non-invasive nature, a partial is a good, inexpensive option for anyone with several healthy teeth and no serious gag reflex.

Partials are a wonderful temporary treatment option for people who plan to have dental implants placed in the future.  They can also be used as a transition appliance to ease someone into wearing a full denture (the transition from missing some teeth to missing all teeth).

What are the Different Types of Partials Available?

We typically classify partials based on their base material.  Dental manufacturers are coming up with new materials on a regular basis, so this will not cover every possible partial option available today.  We’ll discuss the most common ones prescribed by dentists.

  1. Acrylic partials

Most commonly used as a temporary treatment option, acrylic partials are the least expensive dental partial available.  They tend to be the most bulky and least comfortable type of partial.  The thickness of acrylic, necessary to prevent cracking, can lead to speech impediments and gagging.

  1. Cast metal framework partials

The traditional “gold standard” in partials is cast metal framework partials.  This type of partial has a thin, perfectly-fitting metal base that holds the acrylic gums and plastic teeth.  The metal is very strong, even in thin layers, so it can be the smallest and least gag-inducing of the main types of partials.  The main objection to cast framework partials is the appearance of metal in the clasps around the teeth.  Cast metal framework partials provide the best fitting and longest lasting partial.  Most people claim they are also the most comfortable.

  1. Flex-base partials

A relatively new type of partial is one made from a flexible pink material.  These partials contain no metal, so they provide the best cosmetic results.  The pink clasps wrap around the teeth near the gums and blend in well.  The flexible material aims to be the. most comfortable.  Unfortunately, it does not provide the best chewing force and often flexes in such a way that it rubs sore spots on the gums.

Interested in a Dental Partial for Yourself or a Loved One?

If you or a loved one are missing multiple teeth and think a partial might be a great treatment option for you, call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today.  We will schedule you for a consultation with our experienced dentists, who can go over every option available to you for replacing missing teeth.