Full and Partial Dentures

Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position. Complete,or Full dentures,are usually made of acrylic(plastic),whereas partial dentures are made all-acrylic with wire clasps(also known as a “Flipper”), or metal-based partials with metal clasps.The former has the advantage of being cheaper, can be made quickly(often within days of taking an impression), but is less retentive,and prone to fracture(being all plastic). The metal-based partial, although costing more, has the advantage of strength, durability, and ease to chew. The metal-based partial is carefully designed, and teeth will be adjusted to have retentive grooves, pads and paths of insertion that give the partial the best retention when in place. For long-term use, dentists generally recommend the metal-based partial. However for emergency replacement of a front tooth because of aesthetic considerations, or to place teeth over an area that has had implants recently placed and while waiting for it to heal(3-9 months typically), a Flipper will serve well in this brief time. The biggest disadvantage of either type of partial is aesthetics and daily maintenance requirement(hygiene). Because metal clasps are required for retention on remaining teeth (they have to hug the teeth to help keep the partial in place against gravity and chewing), they can be less desirable aesthetically especially in the front teeth. Dentists generally will try to avoid clasping the front teeth, but may have no choice if front teeth are the only teeth available for retention. Most people find maintenance to be the biggest disadvantage partials have. Both types of appliances need to be removed at night to be cleaned, allow proper cleaning of the teeth and gums, and give the tissues a time “to breathe”. Having to go to bed without their partial can be embarrassing in the presence of someone’s bed partner, and feel awkward, or even “naked’ without their “teeth in”. Dentists stress to their patients that this is an extremely important habit to keep. Trapped food/plaque, under partials if left overnight can cause rampant caries(cavities) and bone loss from gum disease.