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Partial Dentures

Custom-fitted partial dentures with metal clasps and acrylic teeth from The Denture Company in Nampa, Idaho, displayed on a white background.

What are Partial Dentures?

A Comprehensive Guide to Partial Dental Prosthetics


Partial dentures are a type of dental prosthesis used to replace one or more missing teeth in a patient’s mouth, particularly when some natural teeth remain. They play a crucial role in restorative dentistry, helping to restore functionality and aesthetics. This article explores what partial dentures are, their types, benefits, and the fitting process.

Understanding Partial Dentures

  • Definition: Partial dentures are removable dental appliances that replace missing teeth and fill in the gaps, while being anchored to the remaining natural teeth. They consist of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base, often connected by a metal framework.
  • Purpose: The primary goal is to prevent the remaining teeth from shifting position in the mouth, a common occurrence after tooth loss. They also help improve chewing and speaking abilities and restore the appearance of a full set of teeth.

Complete Guide to Partial Dentures

Types of Partial Dentures: An In-Depth Look

Partial dentures are a versatile solution for replacing missing teeth, with various types available to suit different needs and preferences. Each type has unique features and benefits, making it important to understand the options. Here’s a detailed exploration of the common types of partial dentures:

1. Acrylic Partial Dentures

  • Construction: Acrylic partial dentures consist of replacement teeth set in a pink, gum-colored acrylic base. The base is generally bulkier to provide the necessary strength to support the replacement teeth.
  • Metal Clasps: They are held in place by metal clasps that fit around the natural teeth. These clasps are visible when speaking or smiling but provide a secure fit to keep the denture in place.
  • Affordability: One of the main advantages of acrylic partial dentures is their affordability. They are often less expensive than other types of partial dentures, making them a popular choice for temporary or short-term solutions.
  • Adjustments and Repairs: Acrylic dentures are easier to adjust and repair, which can be advantageous if changes in the patient’s mouth require modifications to the denture.

2. Metal Framework Partial Dentures

  • Material and Design: These dentures are constructed with a metal framework that provides strength and support. The framework is typically made from a lightweight yet durable cobalt-chrome alloy.
  • Comfort and Stability: Metal partial dentures are often more comfortable and stable than their acrylic counterparts. The thinness of the metal framework allows for a less bulky fit, which many patients find more comfortable.
  • Aesthetics: While the metal framework is more visible than other types, it offers superior strength and durability. For a more natural appearance, the visible metal parts can sometimes be covered with tooth-colored materials.
  • Longevity: Due to their durability and design, metal framework dentures often last longer than acrylic partial dentures.

3. Flexible Partial Dentures

  • Material: Flexible partial dentures are made from a thin, heat-sensitive type of plastic. This material is known for its flexibility and ability to adapt to the contours of the mouth.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: These dentures are valued for their aesthetics. The lack of visible metal clasps and the translucent material blend seamlessly with the natural gums, making the dentures less noticeable.
  • Comfort: The flexibility of the material allows these dentures to adapt to slight changes in the mouth, providing a comfortable and snug fit.
  • Suitability: Flexible partial dentures are often recommended for patients who are allergic to acrylic or certain metals used in traditional dentures.

The Process of Getting Partial Dentures: A Detailed Guide

Obtaining partial dentures is a multi-step process that involves precise dental work and customization to ensure the best fit and functionality. Here’s a closer look at each step involved in getting partial dentures:

1. Initial Consultation and Evaluation

  • Oral Health Assessment: The process begins with a thorough assessment of the patient’s oral health. The dentist examines the gums, remaining teeth, and overall oral condition to determine the suitability for partial dentures.
  • Discussion of Options: The dentist discusses the types of partial dentures available, taking into account factors like the patient’s lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, and budget.
  • Addressing Concerns: This stage also gives patients the opportunity to voice any concerns or preferences they have regarding their future dentures.

2. Impressions and Measurements

  • Creating Accurate Molds: Dental impressions are critical for creating partial dentures. A mold of the patient’s teeth and gums is made using a special dental putty. These impressions are then used to create a precise model of the patient’s mouth.
  • Detailed Measurements: Alongside impressions, detailed measurements of the patient’s mouth and bite are taken. These measurements are crucial for ensuring that the dentures not only fit comfortably but also function effectively, especially when biting and chewing.
  • Design Process: The models and measurements are sent to a dental laboratory where the actual dentures are crafted. Modern technology, including digital imaging, may be used for greater precision.

3. Fitting and Adjustments

  • Initial Fitting: Once the partial dentures are ready, the patient returns for a fitting. The dentist places the dentures in the patient’s mouth to check their fit, comfort, and alignment with the existing teeth.
  • Making Adjustments: It’s common to require some adjustments. The dentist fine-tunes the dentures for a perfect fit. This may involve trimming or reshaping parts of the denture to ensure comfort and functionality.
  • Bite Check: The dentist also checks the patient’s bite to ensure that the upper and lower teeth align correctly when the mouth is closed.

4. Follow-Up Care

  • Care Instructions: Patients receive detailed instructions on how to care for their new partial dentures, including cleaning techniques and handling.
  • Oral Hygiene Guidance: Advice on maintaining oral hygiene with partial dentures is also provided to ensure the health of the remaining natural teeth and gums.
  • Regular Check-ups: Follow-up appointments are scheduled to monitor the fit of the dentures and the health of the patient’s mouth. These visits are crucial for making any necessary adjustments over time and addressing any issues the patient might encounter.


The process of getting partial dentures is comprehensive and tailored to each patient’s unique oral health needs. From the initial consultation to the final fitting and follow-up care, each step is crucial in ensuring that the partial dentures provide comfort, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.