Partial Dentures & Everything You Need to Know About Them

All your questions about partial dentures will be answered in this Aspen Dental guide.

If you have a missing tooth or teeth it’s important to know that you have options when it comes to fixing that space. Whether you lost your teeth due to gum disease, cavities or by accident, dentists overwhelmingly agree that it’s best for your oral health to make sure you find a suitable replacement for them. 

While you and your dentist will decide what is best for your particular situation, it helps to know a little bit more about what kinds of tooth replacement options are out there. Partial dentures are a convenient and affordable way to replace your missing teeth, and allow you to speak, chew and smile with ease again. Want to know a little more about them? Keep reading because we’re going to discuss: 

  • What partial dentures are and who might need them
  • The process for getting partial dentures
  • How much partial dentures cost
  • Do partial dentures hurt?
  • Are there alternatives to partial dentures?
  • How to care for your partial dentures
female dentist looking at a patient with a call to action on the right side saying “find an office”

What are partial dentures?

female dentist smiling at patient sitting in chair

Get to know a little more about exactly what partial dentures are

Partial dentures are designed to replace your missing teeth so you can keep your healthy real teeth. They are removable, which means you don’t need to wear them all the time and you can take them out at night. Your dentist might recommend partial dentures if you’re missing a few teeth in a row in either your upper or lower jaw. They are different from complete dentures, which take up one whole jaw or both jaws. Partials are made of a gum-colored base that will be customized to fit in with the color of your gums, and they will attach to your jaw with either metal framework clasps, or a more natural looking connector. 

You and your dentist will discuss your options for how the denture will connect to your jaw, as there are methods such as precision attachments or dentures that hide their attachments, which are more aesthetically pleasing. Your partial denture will also have prosthetic teeth that will match the rest of your teeth for a seamless fit.

Dentists recommend that their patients who have missing teeth find a replacement to fill the space. But why is that so important? There are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider getting partial dentures:

  • Restore chewing and speaking. If you’ve been dealing with missing teeth, you’re probably aware of how that can affect how you speak and how you chew. When you replace the gaps with a partial denture, you will restore your normal speech and will be able to chew normally. Keep in mind that there are still some foods that might be off limits because they could possibly harm your partial denture.
  • Keep remaining teeth in place. When there is a space in your mouth, your other teeth may become misaligned since there is nothing there to keep them in place. You can avoid dealing with another problem with your remaining teeth when you fill in the gap with a partial denture.
  • Prevent facial sagging. When there is no root or tooth to stimulate the gum and jaw, you may start to experience bone loss in your jaw and facial sagging. Without a replacement to your missing teeth, you will start to notice thin, flattened lips, pouches in your cheeks and a protruding, pointed chin.
  • More teeth may be added to the partial over time. Should you experience additional tooth loss in the future, the partial denture may be able to be expanded to include additional teeth. However, this depends on the materials used and if your dentist thinks this is a good option.

What kinds of partial dentures are available?

If you decide on partial dentures, you’re sure to find an option to meet your needs

If you and your dentist decide that partial dentures are the way to go, there are different types you can choose from, depending on what your needs are. So what goes into consideration when determining which kind of partial dentures are right for you?

The location of your partial denture

The type of partial denture you get can depend on whether you need your partial denture in the front or back of your mouth. If you would like to replace the teeth at the front of your mouth, you can expect to get a partial that will not only improve your smile, but help with your ability to bite down on food. Should you need partial dentures toward the back of your mouth, you might need something more durable, as these teeth will help with chewing and speaking. 

How many teeth you need replaced

Everyone’s partial denture will look a little different, depending on what teeth they need replaced — as well as how many teeth. Dentists typically recommend partial dentures when you have three or more missing teeth in a row. So depending on the amount of teeth missing and where they are, your dentist will recommend certain materials over others when it comes to specific situations. 

How durable it needs to be 

There are a variety of materials that your partial dentures can be made out of. Some dentures are made of metal, while others are made of plastic/acrylic bases. While the metal partial denture will be more durable and lighter, you may have visible metal. Plastic bases on the other hand do not have visible metal, are easy to repair and are flexible.

There is another type of partial denture base called flexible dentures, which is made of a lightweight plastic and has no metal showing. These dentures are made based on a mold of your mouth, so the fit is going to be more precise, and you might not find them as bulky as other types of partial dentures. Many people find them to be nearly invisible.

5 types of partial dentures diagram
Get to know the options available to you as well as the cost.

What is the process for getting partial dentures?

What to expect when you get partial dentures

If you’re going to get partial dentures, there is a typical process your dentist or oral surgeon will follow. 

  1. When you go to see your dentist, they will discuss with you the options you have when it comes to replacing your missing teeth. If they determine that you’re a good candidate for partial dentures, they’ll first need a reconstruction of how your mouth looks.
  1. In order to get an exact replica of your mouth, your dentist will first need to take impressions. This is done by making  material basedimpressions or using digital scanning technology to get a replica of your jaw and your bite. They will also take measurements of your jaw, the space between your teeth, and how far your jaws are apart.
  1. They will either work with the impressions in their office in an on-site lab, or they will have it sent out to a lab. Then using those models, your dentist will create a try in of how your partial denture will look. You may need to have several try ins so your dentist can get the color and the fit just right. 
  1. After your dentist is happy with how the model looks and feels in your mouth, they’ll create a final partial denture.
  1. You’ll then need to come in and try on your final partial denture so your dentist can make any necessary adjustments. 

How much do partial dentures cost?

What can you expect to pay for partial dentures?

One of the most frequently asked questions about partial dentures is how much will they cost? The final cost of your partial dentures will depend greatly on the type of material you and your dentist decide will be best for your situation. Check with your local Aspen Dental dentist for specific costs.

If you choose to go with metal based dentures, then your costs might be on the higher end of the spectrum. These types of partial dentures are very durable and tend to place less pressure on the teeth that are surrounding them. They also tend to be very secure, as they have metal clasps that grip them into place.

Flexible partial dentures could be a nice middle-range solution for you. These are made of lightweight plastic and are designed to easily fit and mold to the shape of your mouth. Instead of metal clasps that might show, these dentures are held in place by gum-colored grips.

Another option you have for partial dentures will be on the lower end of the cost scale. Those are the acrylic or plastic bases. You may find that dentures made of this material have less tooth support than the other options.

The cost of your partial dentures will also depend on where you are located, as prices vary from location to location. It should also be taken into account that in addition to the dentures themselves, you’ll also need to factor in the price of the mold impressions and bite registrations, as well as visits to your dentist. If you need to have any teeth extracted before you’re fitted for a partial denture, this will also factor into the overall cost of partials.

If you have dental insurance, you may find that your policy covers some of the cost of partial dentures, so it’s worth contacting them to see what is and isn’t covered under your policy.

Do partial dentures hurt?

Can you expect there to be discomfort with your partial dentures?

When you first receive your partial denture, your dentist will ensure that they fit properly before you leave the office. Although your partial dentures will eventually be taken out at night, they may first ask that you leave them in all the time (except to clean them) for the first day or two. This is one of the best ways to determine whether or not you’re going to need additional adjustments. As you learn to adjust to your new partial dentures, it is perfectly normal for them to feel a little awkward, and it will take a little time before you stop noticing your dentures. 

It can take up to a month to fully get used to wearing your partial dentures, so don’t feel like the bulky feeling of something new in your mouth will never go away, because it will. You may feel some soreness at first as your gums eventually get used to the feeling of the denture, and your teeth get used to holding the weight of the partial. If you do feel that your gums are a little sore, consider rinsing with salt water in order to promote faster healing. However if you’re noticing that the pain is worsening, it’s time to call your dentist’s office so that they can make the necessary adjustments. Wearing partial dentures is not supposed to be painful.

It will also take a little practice getting used to inserting and taking them out each day. Your dentist will go over the best practices with you. But it’s important to remember that partial dentures can be cracked or broken.  So, be sure to never force them in, and take care when you’re handling them. 

While you’re adjusting to the partial dentures, you might find it easier to cut your food up into smaller bites or stick to softer foods. You may also find it helpful to chew using both sides of your mouth so that you can get used to the feeling of chewing normally with your dentures. There are foods you should avoid during this adjustment period (think hard foods or sticky foods) that can increase the soreness in your gums, or attach themselves to your partial dentures. 

You may start to notice that your saliva flow has increased. This is normal. As your mouth and gums get used to something new, there is bound to be some time for adjustment, and the soreness and extra saliva should decrease over time.

After you’ve had your partial dentures in for about a month, your dentist might recommend that you start to use an adhesive to help further secure your partials. Adhesive materials ensure that your dentures will be even further stabilized when you go about eating the foods you like.  

Over time, and after any necessary adjustments, you won’t even notice that you have your partials in when you eat and talk. When partial dentures are cared for properly, they may be able to last you around 10 years. 

Are there alternatives to partial dentures?

Do you have other options for missing teeth besides partial dentures?

You and your dentist will discuss all the options available to you to fix missing teeth. This includes, but is not limited to, partial dentures. There are other options available such as dental implant-supported dentures and implant bridges. Both of these options rely on placing an implant directly into your jaw bone in order to fuse them together. Depending on how many teeth you need replaced, they will decide if a bridge or a denture is a better option for you. After the implants have fused with your bone and healed, they will place the restoration on top of the implant. 

Although this type of dental procedure is very stable, it is not available for every patient. In order to have the implants put in the jaw, you need to have a certain amount of bone volume and quality available, or else the implants will not be successful. Partial dentures are a great alternative for those patients who do not have the bone necessary, but still want to replace their missing teeth. 

How to care for your partial dentures

You’ll need to take good care of your partial dentures

One of the most important things to remember when you get partial dentures, is that you’ll need to invest the time to care for them. Your dentist will make sure you know how important cleaning and caring for your dentures are, but these are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Remember, it’s important that you take out your partial dentures at night, so it’s a good habit to clean them right before bed, just like you would your natural teeth. 
  • Always show care when putting your dentures in and taking them out. Although they are designed to be very durable, they can be surprisingly fragile if they are mishandled or dropped. To help alleviate this problem, when you put them in or take them out, consider placing a towel over the bowl of your sink. Alternatively you could fill the sink with water and plug it to prevent the partial dentures cracking if you accidentally drop them.
  • It’s very important that you do not use regular toothpaste when you go to clean your partial dentures. This can be too harsh for dentures, and you could risk damaging them. Instead use a cleaner that is specifically made for dentures, or another option suggested by your dentist. Some people choose to use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid, but we recommend discussing what’s best for you with your dentist.
  • Just like you would with your natural teeth, you’ll need to take your partial denture out daily so that you can properly clean it. This ensures you remove any food particles that have accumulated, and can prevent your dentures from becoming permanently stained.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, or even better, a brush designed specifically for cleaning partial dentures. These types of brushes are designed a little differently from regular toothbrushes because their bristles are made so that they can fit the shape and size of a denture. 
  • Go about cleaning your partial denture gently with your brush and cleaner so that you don’t risk scratching the denture or bending any attachments.
  • Talk to your dentist about whether or not they recommend you use a denture solution, or if they would rather have you soak your partial dentures in water. You’ll need to keep your dentures moist when you’re not wearing them, which means storing them in water or a denture solution. If it doesn’t stay moist, you could risk permanently altering the shape, which will require an adjustment to fit it back to your mouth. You and your dentist can decide which storage option is right for you.
  • Make sure you always rinse your partial dentures before placing them back into your mouth. 

How long will partial dentures last?

How long can you expect to have your partial dentures?

aspen dental dentist smiling with patient at the office

Partial dentures can last as long as 10 years as long as they are properly cared for. Dentures will need to be adjusted or replaced because our mouths change as we age. Dentures can show signs of wear and tear over the years. If your partial dentures start to irritate your gums after years of wear, it may be time to visit your dentist and see if a replacement denture is in order. The best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your partial dentures is to follow a routine of caring for them, and making a point to visit your dentist for check ups at least twice a year. 

We hope this guide to partial dentures has helped you learn a little more about this affordable teeth replacement option. Speak to your dentist today and see if they would be the right decision for you.

*General industry pricing only. See your local Aspen Dental for specific pricing.

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