Flexible Partial Dentures: Your Questions Answered

Everything you need to know about flexible partial dentures in one place.

So you’re considering whether or not flexible partial dentures are for you. If you’re just starting your research, you may feel a little overwhelmed. You might be worrying about things like: How do you know what dentures are the best option for you? What do I have to do to care for my new dentures? Will it hurt to wear them? 

You’re not alone in this journey, and many people have the same fears and are asking the same questions. 

The good news is, there are answers to all of your questions. Doing your research and consulting with your dentist will help you feel more confident about moving forward with the best denture solution for you and put you one step closer to having your smile back. 

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions around flexible partial dentures and dentures in general. 

Here’s a look at the topics we’ll cover: 

  • Flexible partial dentures: the basics
  • Flexible partial dentures and eating 
  • Wearing flexible partial dentures daily
  • Flexible partial denture care
  • When to contact your dentist about your flexible partial dentures
female dentist looking at a patient with a call to action on the right side saying “find an office”

Flexible partial dentures: the basics 

If you’re just beginning to look at dentures, you might not know much about dentures. That’s why we wanted to start with a few basic questions you may have as you begin to navigate the world of dentures. 

From understanding the difference between partial and complete dentures to knowing the pros and cons of flexible partial dentures — we’ll cover it all in this section. With this knowledge, you’ll feel more confident making the decision on what dentures are the right fit for you.

Partial dentures vs. complete dentures 

To understand your denture needs, you’ll want to understand the basic differences between the two types — partial and complete

Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing. They can also be used when decayed teeth need to be extracted in order to fit a complete set. These types of dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth comfortably. Complete dentures are an excellent option for people who have lost all of their teeth for any reason. 

Partial dentures are used when there are still some natural teeth left. These types of dentures hold the replacement teeth to a pink, gum-colored base. A partial denture will fill the space of the missing teeth and help keep other teeth from shifting positions. 

What are flexible partial dentures?

One of your most important questions is probably a basic one: what are flexible partial dentures? 

Flexible partial dentures are dentures that are used for the temporary or permanent replacement of missing teeth. They are made of plastic, which gives them the flexibility to fit between your permanent teeth and still provide a solid and durable denture. 

There are multiple types of partial dentures available, each with its unique structure. 

Another common type of partial denture you’ll encounter is cast-metal framework removable partial dentures. When you compare these two denture types together, you can easily see how the flexibility of the plastic can benefit the fit and aesthetics of your partial denture. 

diagram of different types of flexible partial dentures
diagram of  type of flexible partial denture
Flexible partial dentures are much more comfortable and provide a better aesthetic when compared to the cast-metal alternative. This is just one of many reasons why people choose flexible partial dentures as their denture solution. Image courtesy of Dear Doctor.

Pros and cons of flexible partial dentures

When trying to determine what the right solution for your dental needs are, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of flexible dentures. Having a view into both sides of the picture will allow you to make an educated decision on what is the right solution for you. 

Advantages: 

  • Made of thin and bendable material
  • More comfortable than alternatives
  • Less likely to cause any allergic reactions
  • Non-absorbent of stains and smells 
  • More natural-looking 
  • Strongly adherent to your gums

Disadvantages: 

  • It might be more difficult for dental professionals to fit or adjust properly
  • Prone to bacterial buildup when not maintained properly

Depending on your specific needs, weighing the pros and cons will help you make the right decision on whether flexible partial dentures are the right solution for you or not. 

Flexible partial dentures and eating

Another big thing you might be concerned about is how your denture choice will impact your eating. Luckily, once you’re used to the dentures, there shouldn’t be a significant impact on the things you can and can’t eat. 

Will I be able to eat like normal? 

For the most part, yes, you will be able to eat like normal with your flexible partial dentures. 

It is important to note though, that when you first start to wear your dentures, it might feel a bit strange and uncomfortable. This feeling should pass over time as you become used to wearing the dentures. 

When first starting, it’s a good idea to start slowly with the foods you’re eating until your dentures become more comfortable. Starting with soft foods that won’t require you to chew quite as much is a great way to help your gums start to adapt to the new denture. 

But once you feel comfortable, you can move on to solid foods and start enjoying your favorite meals again. 

diagram of meal ideas for new denture wearers
Don’t push yourself when you first start to wear your new dentures. Start with soft foods to allow yourself to get used to the way your dentures fit. Don’t rush it. Take it slow, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying the foods you love with no issues at all. Image courtesy of Fixodent

Are there any food restrictions? 

While there aren’t any specific food restrictions when it comes to your new partial dentures, you’ll want to keep in mind that some foods will be harder to eat than others -- especially when you first start. 

These are a few of the foods that might make eating a bit more challenging: 

  • Sticky and chewy food such as gummy candy, chewing gum, and peanut butter
  • Certain meats such as steak 
  • Snacks such as nuts and popcorn
  • Foods that are hard to bite into, such as an apple

Now, just because these things are listed here doesn’t mean you can never have snacks like popcorn. You’ll just want to limit how often you eat these things and make sure to clean your dentures and mouth properly. 

Do I need to clean them after eating? 

Yes. You will always want to clean your dentures after eating to remove food debris and other loose particles. 

To clean your dentures after eating, you’ll want to run water over them to remove anything that may have worked its way into the denture. It’s always a good idea to put a towel on the counter of your sink to have a safe place to put your dentures during cleaning, so you do not drop or break them.

Wearing flexible partial dentures daily 

Since your new dentures will become part of your daily life, you likely have some questions about daily wear. 

For the most part, wearing your dentures on a daily basis is simple. There aren’t any significant restrictions on how long you can wear them, but you’ll want to consider taking them out at night. And if you find your flexible partial denture isn’t fitting quite right, reach out to your dentist to see if anything can be done. 

How long can I wear them? 

Your dentist will most likely advise you on how long you can wear your flexible partial dentures, but it’s important to know that you cannot wear them 24/7. 

It’s important to give your skin time to recover from your daily wear to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Wearing your dentures too long could cause gum irritation and bone loss, so it’s best to remember to take them out and let your mouth breathe for a few hours each day.

Taking your dentures out will also remind you to keep them nice and clean. By getting into a routine of cleaning your dentures after a day’s use, you’ll keep them in tip-top shape as long as you can. 

Do I need to take them out at night? 

While you technically can wear your dentures at night, it’s best to remove them before heading to bed. This is the perfect time for your gums and bone to relax and recover from a full day of wear. 

As mentioned, proper cleaning in the evening and storage overnight will help keep your flexible partial dentures in the best shape. We’ll get into more detail on how to properly care for your dentures in the next section. 

What do I do about an uncomfortable fit? 

If you find that your flexible partial denture still feels very uncomfortable in your mouth after the first few weeks, it might be time to check the alignment. This is also something that you may need to do over time as your gums and bones will change. 

In these scenarios, you’ll want to talk with your dentist about your concerns and ask them if a realignment is necessary. They will then adjust or replace your partial denture based on what they deem necessary. 

Flexible partial denture care

There are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration when taking care of your flexible partial dentures. For example, you can’t simply take them out and set them on your nightstand when you’re ready for bed, and you won’t want to use toothpaste to clean them. 

But when done right, and with high-quality flexible partial dentures, you can keep your dentures clean and make them last for years to come. 

How do I take care of my flexible partial dentures?

Without proper cleaning, your plaque can build up on your dentures and put you at risk of gum disease and bad breath. Luckily, these things can be avoided by taking care of your dentures properly. 

diagram showing the steps to clean dentures
Keeping your dentures clean doesn’t have to be a difficult task. In fact, it can easily become part of your nighttime routine. You just need to stick to it. The cleaner you keep your flexible partial dentures, the healthier mouth you’ll have. Image courtesy of Fixodent.

When it comes to caring for your dentures and keeping your gums healthy, there are a few key things you’ll want to do as part of your routine. We’ll go into a little more detail with the following questions and answers, but here is a quick snapshot of what you’ll want to do. 

  • Brush all areas of your dentures with a soft-bristled toothbrush or a toothbrush designed for dentures
  • Clean your gums to remove any access plaque build-up
  • Soak your dentures in lukewarm water or with a denture-soaking solution overnight

Following these cleaning steps will help you keep a clean, healthy mouth and keep your dentures maintained for longer use. 

How do I properly brush my dentures? 

You’ll still need to brush your partial dentures, but you’ll need to do it a little differently than you’re used to. 

illustration of hands brushing partial dentures
Make sure to use a soft-bristled brush when cleaning your partial dentures. A brush that has hard bristles is too rough on the material and can cause more damage than good. Image courtesy of WikiHow

To brush your flexible partial dentures, you will want to purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush designed specifically for dentures. This is important because choosing a toothbrush with hard bristles can damage your dentures. 

It’s also important to note that most kinds of toothpaste can damage your dentures. So you’ll also want to make sure to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for dentures. 

To brush your dentures, you’ll first want to remove them from your mouth. Once you remove your dentures, rinse them off to remove any loose particles that may be caught on them. Then, you can apply a denture cleaner to your brush and gently brush your dentures.

How do I properly clean my gums? 

The next step in properly caring for your mouth is to clean your gums and the surrounding areas of your mouth. 

This can all be done at the same time as cleaning your dentures and is something you should add to your routine each day.

Cleaning the other areas of your mouth is just as simple as cleaning your dentures. You’ll just want to gently brush all the areas of your mouth, including your gums, tongue, cheeks and roof of your mouth with the same soft-bristled brush. 

Once you’re all done, you can rinse your water out with lukewarm salt water. This is also another tactic to help keep your gums clean and healthy. 

Keeping your gums clean helps to remove plaque and stimulate circulation in your tissue. It will also reduce the risk of irritation and bad breath. 

What should I soak my dentures in?  

Soaking your flexible partial dentures overnight is an important step in keeping your dentures in the best shape possible. 

illustration of dentures soaking in a cup
Soaking your flexible partial dentures is an important step in keeping them clean. You’ll want to make sure to soak them nightly in a denture cleaner to keep them in the best shape possible. Image courtesy of Whole Life Dental

If you do not soak your dentures when they’re not in use, you run the risk of them drying out. This can cause the material of the denture to become brittle, increasing the risk of them cracking. 

When soaking your dentures, make sure you are not using hot or boiling water. This can cause the shape of the dentures to shift, and they may no longer fit in your mouth as they were intended to. 

For best results, you’ll want to keep your dentures in water when they’re not being worn. This will keep them hydrated and eliminate the concern of breaking. It’s also a best practice to soak them in a denture cleaner when not in use. 

When to contact your dentist about your flexible partial dentures

Not everything requires a call to the dentist, but there are a few scenarios when it’s best to get a professional’s opinion. It could be that you’re experiencing frequent pain or have sores on your gums — or maybe you accidentally dropped and broke your partial dentures. 

Whatever the case, your dentist is there to help you make sure your transition and future with dentures are as simple and comfortable as they can be. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios when you’ll want to consult your dentist. 

diagram of a dentist next to signs that tell you when to seek dental professional
There are a few things you’ll want to consult your dental professional for. Things like repairs and realignments are not something you should be trying at home. If you’re suffering from persistent mouth sores -- that’s another red flag.

When should I see my dentist for irritation? 

When you first get your new flexible partial dentures, you will want to give your mouth some time to adjust to the new equipment. Over time, that discomfort should subside. But if it doesn’t, you may need to consult your dentist. 

If you start to experience any of the following symptoms, it’s best to get an appointment on the books: 

  • Irritated or inflamed gums
  • Blisters or sores
  • Frequent cuts or wounds
  • Headaches and ear pain 

Any of the above symptoms can be something that warrants a call to your dentist. Let them know what you’re experiencing, and they can guide you on the adjustments you’ll need to make.

When should I see my dentist for repairs? 

Sometimes, even when you take the best care for your dentures — accidents happen. Whether you accidentally dropped them in the sink while cleaning them or left them out overnight, it could result in needing repairs.

A few key indicators that you could be in need of a repair include: 

  • Completely broken dentures
  • Chips or cracks in one or more areas 
  • Discomfort or difficulty chewing
  • Gum irritation or sores

If you’re experiencing any of these indicators, you’ll want to let your dentist know and schedule a time to go in and have them check out the status of your dentures. They can then let you know if you need a repair, relining or if something else is going on. 

When should I see my dentist for a relining? 

You’ll most likely need to get your partial dentures realigned over time. As your gums and bones adjust and move, you’ll find that your dentures don’t fit quite like they originally did. 

Some of the signs of needing a relining are similar to needing a repair, such as discomfort, difficulty chewing and gum irritation.

But there are a few other things that may indicate it’s time to contact your dentist for a relining, including: 

  • Your partial denture is slipping and moving around when you talk and eat
  • Your partial dentures are hard to clean 
  • Your partial dentures are causing pain or oral soars

If you feel like your dentures aren't fitting right, call your dentist and ask them to take a look. They can help you identify if you need a relining or if there is another problem occurring.

Get your smile back with flexible partial dentures

There’s a lot to take in, but by understanding the basic care and maintenance of your new denture, you’ll set yourself up for success. With the right knowledge, you can make the best decision on what type of denture you need, find the right foods to get started, and know when it’s time to contact your dentist about a potential issue. 

Making the decision to move forward with flexible partial dentures will get you one step closer to building your confidence and getting your smile back.

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