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This blog has been reviewed and approved by Dr Robert Lee, a dental professional of 35 years.
Flexible Dentures: Benefits and Costs
Most dentures are hard and strong, but if you’re looking for a partial denture made from softer material, flexible partial dentures may be the right choice for you. These dentures don’t need clasps to fit in place, so they offer more flexibility in your life (in more ways than one). Read on to learn about flexible dentures, what types are available, the pros and cons, and much more!
In this article:
What are Flexible Dentures Made Of?
Dentures need to be durable and strong, but they should also be comfortable and function well for those wearing them.
Flexible dentures have been around since the 1950s, with the first type made from Valplast, a nylon-based material. However, flexible dentures only gained mainstream usage in the 70s and 80s, using thermoplastics such as:
Polyester (polyethylene terephthalate)
Acrylics (polymethylmethacrylate – PMMA)
Acetal resin (polyoxymethylene).
Different thermoplastics have distinct characteristics that fulfill unique needs—some are more rigid than others. This evolution in denture materials has led to super flexible nylons, crystalline nylons, and polyolefins used in today’s state-of-the-art flexible dentures. Still, the material used in your dentures also depends on your specific needs. For example, if you have allergy concerns, then crystalline nylon may be a more suitable material for dentures.
Types of Flexible Dentures
Flexible dentures are a type of partial denture, and they are softer and more flexible than conventional dentures. The most popular brands of flexible dentures include:
Valplast. These dentures use a biocompatible nylon thermoplastic. Valplast’s makers claim that they adapt effortlessly to constant movement in the mouth.
FlexiLytes. This brand of denture is made from nylon, is biocompatible, and is claimed to be long-lasting.
Flexites. These dentures use vinyl composite instead of nylon, which some dental labs say makes it easier for the wearer to adjust to.
Sunflex. This brand of denture offers a virtually invisible base that’s durable and metal-free. Sunflex claims the dentures are more stain resistant than other brands and can also be relined and repaired.
Advantages of Flexible Partial Dentures
Flexible partial dentures have the following benefits:
They have no unsightly metal parts, as they don’t require metal clasps.
They’re more comfortable to wear and for the wearer to chew and eat due to the thin and flexible thermoplastic resin material.
They’re less likely to cause irritation.
They can be faster to make when compared to conventional dentures.
They’re easier to place and stay in the mouth thanks to the undercuts of the alveolar (bone) ridge.
The base can be thinner than traditional dentures, as the thermoplastic materials are more durable.
The materials used in flexible dentures present no risk of allergic reaction.
They’re less likely to break when dropped.
Thermoplastic nylon resin materials are a biocompatible material that also contain no BPAs.
They’re stain and odor resistant.
Disadvantages of Flexible Partial Dentures
Flexible dentures have the following downsides:
They can’t replace all your teeth, so they’re only available as partial dentures. If you require full dentures [link to full dentures article], then you’ll need to use conventional varieties.
They can be much harder to adjust, as the techniques used in making traditional dentures are more stable than those in flexible dentures.
When compared to normal dentures, they’re not as strong.
They can have a shorter lifespan than normal dentures.
They can only be used by those with good oral hygiene habits, as these types of dentures require strict hygiene and care.
It’s possible that, over time, certain materials may show color degradation.
How Much do Flexible Partial Dentures Cost?
Flexible dentures can be more expensive than standard dentures, as they cost between $700 and $3,000. The price will depend on the brand, how many teeth need replacing, and your dentist. However, it’s possible that your dental insurance policy can cover part of the cost. If you need to get an accurate price quote for flexible dentures, talk to your dentist.
How to Clean Flexible Dentures?
Just like with natural teeth, your dentures require regular cleaning and care. Follow these steps to keep your flexible dentures clean:
Before you start cleaning your flexible dentures, fill up a sink with water or stand over a folded towel in case you accidentally drop the denture.
Now, take your flexible denture out and wash it in cold water.
Next, moisten your denture brush (a regular, soft-bristled toothbrush also works great), apply denture cleaner or a non-abrasive toothpaste, and start gently brushing your flexible dentures to remove food deposits, any remains of denture adhesive, and plaque.
When you have finished, rinse your flexible dentures off one more time, now in warm water.
Are Flexible Dentures Right for You?
Dentures are very personal, and your needs may vary from someone else’s. You may prefer to go for alternatives, like dental implants. However, if you’re considering partial dentures, then you may want a flexible denture if you
have tilted teeth and find rigid dentures challenging to insert
are allergic to acrylic
have irregular bone ridges which cannot be fixed
suffer from limited mouth openings.
Frequently Asked Questions About Flexible Dentures
Are flexible dentures better?
Flexible dentures adapt to the shape of your gums and teeth and will not require any clasps to hold them in place. They can be a great option for those who struggle with clasps or who have irregularities in their mouth that make wearing normal dentures difficult. However, flexible dentures may or may not be the right option for you, so talk to your dentist about them.
What are the disadvantages of flexible dentures?
The disadvantages of flexible dentures are:
They are only suitable for those who have some teeth missing and are unavailable as complete dentures.
They can be harder to adjust.
They are not as strong as rigid dentures.
They may not last as long as rigid dentures.
They require strict cleaning.
Over time, they may show signs of color degradation.
How do flexible dentures stay in place?
Flexible dentures have thin extensions that fit or snap into natural concavities in the crowns of your teeth around the gumline, so you won’t need to use metal clasps as you would in regular partial dentures.
What is the cost of flexible dentures?
Flexible dentures can cost between $700 and $3,000.
How long do flexible dentures last?
How long your flexible dentures last will depend on how well you care for them. They can usually last between five to eight years.
Flexible dentures can be a great option for you if you have trouble with standard partial dentures or are allergic to acrylic. However, like with all dental options, the right choice for you is going to be very personal, so discuss whether flexible dentures are the best option with your dentist.