What is a removable denture?
A removable partial denture fills in the space created by missing teeth. It fills out your smile and restores oral function. A denture helps you to properly chew food, a difficult task when you are missing teeth. In addition, a denture may improve speech and prevent a sagging face by providing support for lips and cheeks.
Why might I consider a removable denture?
Removable partial dentures provide an option for patients who cannot have a dental bridge (a fixed partial denture) for any number of reasons.
Rather than lying entirely on the edentulous ridge like complete dentures, removable partial dentures possess clasps of metal or plastic that attach onto the remaining teeth, making the device more stable and retentive.
What choices of partial dentures do I have?
Temporary Acrylic Removable Partial Denture
Known as the “Flipper” in dentistry, this is generally the least expensive alternative to replacing missing teeth. Some flippers have a wire clasp to help attach the acrylic base to the teeth, while others have no clasps at all. These types of removable partial dentures have an acrylic base made exactly the same as a complete denture. The biggest benefit of this type of removable partial denture is that it can be made before any teeth are removed and delivered the same day as the extractions are done, to improve aesthetics for the patient. Then, if more teeth need to be removed later, teeth can be added easily and economically to the flipper.
Flippers have a number of disadvantages:
- They tend to be somewhat irregular in shape and the acrylic is brittle. These partial dentures tend to break frequently, especially in the lower arch or when functioning against a single upper central replacement tooth.
- The acrylic tends to be thicker than other types of partials for strength, and may not be as comfortable as other types of dentures
- They tend to be not as retentive or stable as the removable partials retained by clasps around the teeth.
- Since they rest on the tissue, they tend to sink below the level of the teeth over time and need to be replaced, thus the term “temporary.”
Cast Framework Partial Dentures
As the name implies, these are partial dentures which have a cast metal framework supporting denture acrylic and teeth. These partials are mainly tooth supported and retained and are therefore extremely stable. The metal framework is cast extremely thin and therefore much less noticeable than the acrylic framework partials. The clasps are designed to retain the partial in place, and the teeth are altered slightly to allow the patient to bring the teeth all the way together without interfering with the clasps. This also makes it possible to place the clasps in positions which are less visible than wire clasps. The cast framework is also very strong and is less likely to break than acrylic, and since the metal does not rest on tissue, but on teeth, these partials do not sink below the level of the teeth. Finally, since there is little contact with the soft tissue, sore spots are not much of a problem.
Flexible Framework Partial Dentures
The newest types of partial dentures are made from a nylon-like material called Valplast (the most common) or Flexite. This material replaces the metal and acrylic of the standard partial denture. The clasps that hold the partial to the teeth are made of the same pink material, and are generally indistinguishable from the gums, a very nice aesthetic advantage. The material is also nearly unbreakable so it can be made quite thin, a distinct advantage over the acrylic framework partials.
One disadvantage to these partials is that they are tissue supported so they are more likely to develop sore spots. They generally take more time to adjust for these sore-spots, and their flexibility can be a liability in patients with heavy function.
Combination Metal Framework with Flexible Clasp Partials
For the patient with high aesthetic demands who also needs the most stable framework possible, we are now able to make a metal framework with clasps made of the pink material used in Valplast or Flexite partials. This allows us to hide the clasps while alleviating many of the sore-spot problems associated with flexible frameworks.
The Manhattan Dentist, Dr. Binder will spend time consulting with you on which removable partial denture is best for you.