Partial dentures replace missing teeth when there are still healthy ones present. They keep the remaining teeth from shifting and maintain proper alignment. And this is always important to prevent the possibility of periodontal disease and TMJ disorder. Partial dentures are also the most economical solution.
Types of Partial Dentures
There are several types of partial dentures. The traditional method is to attach the prosthetic teeth to a metal framework. Clasps hold the partial to healthy teeth, making this a relatively strong and secure replacement method. The clasps can also be hidden behind other teeth, so they’re not visible. The photo on the left shows this traditional framework.
Partial dentures can also be made entirely of plastic. The photo on the right shows a flexible Valplast partial. You can see that it looks much more natural because the clasps are either pink or translucent. Although they are not as strong or durable as the metal partials, they provide a more esthetic solution.
Alternatives to Partial Dentures
As with any method, there are disadvantages to partial dentures. The hardware causes some discomfort for many people. And removable partials make regular dental hygiene more difficult. The alternatives to partial dentures include dental bridges and dental implants.
Dental bridges can replace one to three teeth. In this method, the two teeth adjacent to the missing space are prepared to receive crowns, and the prosthetic teeth are suspended between these crowns. The photo at left shows a bridge for one missing tooth. Bridges are more esthetic than partial dentures, and they are fixed, with no extra hardware required to hold them in place.
Dental implants can be the best solution for several reasons, but they are also more expensive than partials or bridges. When you lose a tooth, your body will always re-absorb the bone to which it was anchored. Implants replace the tooth root as well as the visible tooth structure, and this prevents the bone loss. The diagram on the right shows a dental implant.
Dental implants are surgically placed into the jaw bone, and as the area heals, the body distributes more bone material to incorporate the new structure. The root form actually becomes a permanent part of your jaw. The disadvantages of this method are the extra expense and the surgical process that requires a healing period. But once healed, dental implants are like having your natural teeth back. Click here to learn more about dental implants.
If you are ready to find the best solution for your situation, we’ll be happy to help you find an appointment to fit your schedule. And if you would like to come in for a brief complimentary consultation before your full exam, let us know. Just call our office or visit our request an appointment page.