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A woman in her 40s is smiling and reading about "What are Partial Dentures?" on an iPad with Fixodent.

3 minutes to read

Posted: 03.14.2021

This blog has been reviewed and approved by Dr Robert Lee, a dental professional of 35 years.

What are Partial Dentures?

Dentures work either as a removable or a fixed replacement for missing teeth and the surrounding tissues. So what is a partial removable denture? The clue is in the name for partial dentures: these dentures only occupy a part of your mouth. Unlike complete dentures which take up the entire mouth, partial dentures fill a gap created by missing teeth, so you can feel more confident about smiling, eating, and speaking. Partial dentures are supported by remaining teeth, so they don’t change position. Still have questions about partial dentures? Read on to learn all about their advantages, their parts, and how to keep your natural teeth healthy.

In this article:

Advantages of Partial Removable Dentures

Partial dentures offer several benefits. They  

  • make it easier to talk and chew  

  • fill the gap created by missing teeth so you can smile confidently  

  • maintain the shape of your face.  

What Are Partial Dentures Made of

Partial dentures are made of different materials. The base of the denture can be made with plastic—usually resin—or metal like cobalt-chromium. Some dentists may use titanium in larger partial dentures. Although metal bases are lighter and more durable than plastic, plastic or polymer-based partials are cheaper and can look better as no metal is visible. However, the clasps are usually made from metal. Sometimes thermoplastics are used in flexible dentures, which do not require clasps as the denture fits right in.

Parts of Partial Removable Dentures

So what makes up a removable partial denture? Partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth that are attached to a metal or a gum-colored plastic base connected with a metal framework. Partials can be used to replace the front, back, upper, and lower teeth. An upper partial denture will go on the top part of your jaw and a lower partial denture on the bottom, but structurally they are similar, except designed to fit in different parts of your mouth. So let’s get to know the basic components of a partial denture in more detail.  

  • Major connector. This framework unites all the components of a partial denture and keeps it rigid. The design of the major connector will change depending on your mouth, like where the denture will go and how many natural teeth you have left.  

  • Minor connector. This connects all the components to the major connector.  

  • Rest. The rest is a component on a removable partial denture, which rests on a prepared tooth surface. The function of the rest is to distribute the force along the tooth so the denture stays fixed in place.  

  • Clasps. These metal components allow the denture to resist dislodging forces in your mouth in the vertical direction. Clasps come out of the denture and encircle the neighboring teeth.  

  • Denture base. The base covers the ridge of your mouth where there is a gap between the teeth. It functions as a base that supports denture teeth. For acrylic partial dentures, the base is usually made out of acrylic resin (which has a pink color), but some partials can be made out of metal (chrome cobalt).   

  • Denture teeth. These acrylic or porcelain teeth serve to replace the teeth that are missing in the mouth.  

An infographic showing the Parts of partial removable dentures: denture teeth, major connector, denture base, minor connector, rests, clasp.

How Much Do Partial Dentures Cost?

Partial dentures cost around $1,500 on average—but can range from $800 to $2,700—for a partial with a resin base. A partial with a metal cast will cost, on average, $2,000, and a flexible denture will cost $1,700 on average.

Keep Partials Clean and Your Natural Teeth Healthy

Just like you’d look after your natural teeth, you should keep your partials clean. A lack of partial denture care can cause several problems, like gum problems of your natural teeth. Keep your remaining teeth healthy by looking after your partial with the following steps:  

  • Clean dentures over a bowl of water or a towel, in case you drop them (dentures can break if you drop them). 

  • Use a special brush designed for cleaning dentures to brush the partial. 

  • Soak your partial in denture cleanser after wearing them following the instructions and then in water. Please make sure to use denture cleansers designed for partial dentures. 

Caring for your remaining teeth and gums should also be a priority to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay. Cleaning your partial dentures is just one part of the routine, but make sure you also:  

  • Brush your gums, tongue, natural teeth, and roof of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush in the morning and evening.  

  • See a dental hygienist to clean your gums and teeth regularly.  

For partial dentures that are removable, you may want to use a denture adhesive to help dentures stay more secure, stable, and to relieve any irritation they can have on the gums. Fixodent has got you covered, so there’s no excuse not to dive into life with partial dentures.  

How to Clean Your Partial

How many teeth do you need for a partial denture?

For a conventional partial denture, you must have some healthy teeth in the mouth so the partial can attach using the clasps on both sides. Partial dentures are best used to replace a gap of missing teeth.

Is it worth getting partial dentures?

Partial dentures won’t just help you eat, talk, and smile as you did before but will also protect your remaining teeth by stopping them from shifting.

How are partial dentures held in place?

Most partial dentures are held in place by metal clasps, which clip onto the teeth on either side of the gap.

How long do partial dentures last?

Partial dentures can last up to 15 years, but your mouth can change in that time. You may also need repairs or relining, or even a new partial sooner than this.

Can you sleep with partial dentures in?

It’s best not to sleep with dentures. You’ll need to clean and take your partial out for the night. Make sure it’s soaked in water or a cleaning solution to prevent it from drying out and warping.

What is better, a bridge or a partial?

It depends on your situation. Bridges usually span a small gap and require at least two healthy teeth on either side, so these are best if you are missing one or two teeth in a row. If you are missing more teeth or even have missing teeth that are not right next to each other, a single partial denture can replace these missing teeth.

What is the most comfortable type of partial denture?

Flexible dentures can be more comfortable than partial dentures as they are made of lighter and more flexible resin than traditional dentures. However, even traditional partial dentures can be comfortable once your mouth, cheek muscles, and tongues adjust to them.

What to expect when getting partial dentures?

The process at your dentist will be simple. Your dentist will take a few impressions of your teeth and may need to measure your jaw to see how it all fits together. Once they have that information, they can send your data to the lab and start building your dentures. You might receive a temporary plastic denture to help them check the fit and make any adjustments if needed. When you get your partial, you can start wearing it right away.

How long does it take to get used to a partial denture?

It can take you three to six weeks to completely adjust to a new partial denture.

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