When you think of dentures, you may consider them a teeth replacement option only for people who require most, if not all, of their teeth to be replaced.
While full dentures are definitely common and useful for that purpose, this is not the only type of denture available, and you don't need to be missing a great number of teeth in order to save your smile with a similar prosthetic device.
If you have one or more missing teeth, you can opt for partial dentures, which offer many of the same benefits as full dentures do in addition to some totally unique advantages.
Perhaps you're living with missing teeth because you suffer from dental anxiety, or because you're worried you won't be able to afford a replacement. In either case, a partial denture may be the path to the brand-new smile that you're looking for.
To choose the best option for your smile, it is important to learn all you need to know about this life-changing treatment as well as some great alternatives available.
What Is a Partial Denture?
A partial denture is a removable prosthetic device designed to replace one or more teeth. The denture usually consists of natural-looking artificial teeth attached to a gum-colored base, that may or may not consist of a metal framework and metal clasps that attach to the remaining teeth in order to provide the denture with added support.
Like full dentures, which are also referred to as complete dentures, the partial denture offers a non-invasive and affordable long-term solution to replacing missing teeth.
The Different Types of Partial Dentures
There are three different types of partial dentures, all of which work similarly but offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The two most notable ways they vary include two the different materials they are made from and how much each denture teeth type costs.
Acrylic Partial Denture
An acrylic partial denture consists of one or more prosthetic teeth fixed to a gum-colored acrylic base with metal clasps that are used to attach it to the remaining teeth.
While this is the most affordable option, that affordability comes at the price of a bit less comfort, as the acrylic base is somewhat bulky.
Cast Metal Partial Denture
The cast metal partial denture is perhaps the most common type of partial denture. It replaces the acrylic used in the base with a thin but strong cast metal framework.
Metal clasps are sometimes used in cast metal partials, but patients often opt for precision attachments instead.
Precision attachments are a more subtle way to attach removable partial dentures to your teeth than clasps. However, they are also more costly.
Flexible Partial Dentures
Flexible partial dentures offer a few advantages over acrylic or metal dentures. This type of denture is made from a thermoplastic material that is lightweight and uses gum-colored rather than regular metal-based clasps.
Some patients find flexible partial dentures to be more comfortable, and they enjoy the fact that the clasps match the color of their gums and are therefore more natural-looking. Flexible partials are also hypoallergenic, so they can be the only option in some cases.
The Benefits of Replacing Missing Teeth
If you have one or more missing teeth, restorative services are important for reasons other than aesthetic preferences. Missing teeth can lead to a whole host of issues with your dental health, your mental health, and your overall health.
You'll Be Able to Eat and Speak Better
Our teeth play a critical role in eating, and they're also crucial for proper enunciation when speaking. If you have to change your diet due to missing teeth or your ability to effectively communicate is also harmed, then your quality of life is bound to suffer.
You Can Avoid Teeth Shifting
When there is a gap in your mouth, the remaining teeth can begin to shift into the open space, which can then lead to a variety of dental issues. A partial denture can take the place of the missing tooth or teeth and prevent any shifting from occurring.
You Can Avoid Bone Loss
The roots of your natural teeth stimulate bone growth in your jaw. Because of this, when teeth are lost, bone growth ceases, and deterioration can begin. The deterioration can result in a shifting of the facial structure and an altering of your appearance, leading to skin sagging and a more aged look.
You can prevent this issue by replacing the missing teeth, which can create the stimulation the tooth roots once offered. However, partial dentures are not able to provide that stimulation. This can only be done with dental implants.
It Will Protect Your Oral Health
A missing tooth can make you much more susceptible to problems like tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can lead to more tooth loss themselves. Opting for something like removable partial dentures will work to protect your existing teeth and help you maintain good oral health going forward.
It Will Boost Your Self-Confidence
It's very common to feel insecure about the appearance of your smile when you have teeth missing. Dealing with that stress on a daily basis can be detrimental to one's self-confidence. Choosing to replace that missing tooth can make you feel far more comfortable in your own skin.
Am I a Good Candidate for Removable Partial Dentures?
One of the best advantages of the removable partial denture is that it has fewer requirements for candidacy relative to some other options for tooth replacement.
You may be a good candidate for partial dentures if:
- You're missing one or more teeth
- Your gums are healthy
- Your remaining teeth are not severely decayed
- You take good care of your oral health
If you happen to have issues with your natural teeth or gums, that doesn't mean you can never have partial dentures. In many cases, you would simply need to go through the necessary dental procedures to address those issues before you could receive your dentures.
Speak with your dentist if you're interested in replacing lost teeth. They'll give you an initial consultation, which will include an oral exam that can help them determine whether they recommend partial dentures for you. If they can't recommend dentures, chances are they will be able to recommend another option.
How Much Do Partial Dentures Cost?
Removable partial dentures are among the most affordable options for anyone looking to replace missing teeth. Still, any dental work does involve some cost, and partial dentures are no different.
It's important to note that there is no difference in cost between upper partial dentures and lower ones. The two most essential factors in price variation are going to be the number of teeth you're replacing and the type of partial denture you choose.
Acrylic Partial Dentures
An acrylic partial denture is going to be your most cost-effective option when it comes to removable partial dentures. They typically cost anywhere from $650 to $1200.
Cast Metal Partials
Metal partial dentures are the most expensive option, but they also tend to be the most preferred, which makes it reasonable to conclude that the benefits of metal dentures are worth their higher price tag. These partial dentures cost anywhere from $950 to $2000.
Flexible Partial Dentures
Flexible partial dentures fall between acrylic and metal when it comes to pricing. They can cost anywhere from $1100 to $1500.
Are Partial Dentures Covered Under Dental Insurance?
If budget is one of your primary concerns when choosing what type of partial denture is best for you, fortunately, dental insurance generally does cover partial dentures. Depending on the dental insurance you have and how many teeth you're looking to replace, up to 50% of your denture treatment can be covered.
Alternatives to Partial Dentures
If you don't believe partial dentures would be a good fit for you, don't worry: there are two great tooth replacement options outside of the removable partial denture.
The dental implant is one of the most common options for tooth replacement today. It uses a titanium post that is fused to the jaw in order to provide superior strength and support for a prosthetic tooth.
Pros and Cons
Implants look more like natural teeth than plastic partial dentures, and they are usually more comfortable. However, they do require oral surgery, and they are significantly more costly.
Dental bridges are a tooth replacement option consisting of a prosthetic tooth or teeth with dental crowns on either side of them. The dental crowns are fixed onto the remaining natural teeth on either side of the gap in order to provide support for the false teeth.
Pros and Cons
This option is more cost-effective to replace teeth than a dental implant while also providing a fair amount of support. But they are more invasive, and their cost is likely to be higher than the cost of partial dentures.
Some frequently asked questions regarding traditional partial dentures include:
Do Partial Dentures Hurt?
Receiving a partial denture is non-invasive and should not cause you any discomfort. However, wearing a partial denture can take some adjustment, and you may find that it irritates your gums and the surrounding tissues in your mouth for a while.
What Is the Best Partial Denture?
The best partial denture option for you depends on your specific needs. If budget is your primary concern, then acrylic dentures are your best bet. If quality is most important for you, then metal dentures are your choice. For maximum comfort, or if you have a metal allergy, then flexible partials are the answer.
How Often Do You Have to Wear Partial Dentures?
When you receive a partial denture, your dentist is likely to ask you to wear it throughout the day and make sure to remove it at night before bed. Do not sleep with your partial dentures in your mouth as your gums need to breath. If you do not remove your partials before bed, your gums can get puffy and irritated, making your partial not fit any more or it may become loose due to the puffy tissue.
Do Partial Dentures Stimulate Bone Growth?
The bone loss that can occur from a lost tooth can cause a range of issues in your mouth. But while a dental implant is able to replace the stimulation that can continue bone growth, partial dentures cannot.
Is There Any Way to Lower the Cost of Partial Dentures?
You can lower the cost of dentures even if you don't have insurance coverage. One simple way is to select a less expensive type of denture base, but you can also sign up for a Dental Discount Plan, which can help you get discounted rates on more than just partial dentures. You may also qualify for government assistance in paying for your dentures.
Partial Dentures Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Partial dentures are a tooth replacement option that is both non-invasive and often less expensive than others. These dentures can help you restore form and function to your mouth, whether you've lost one or several teeth.
It's critical to replace a lost tooth, as failing to can have a variety of negative effects on your oral health. That gap in your mouth can increase your risk of periodontal disease and lead to gum disease, tooth decay, teeth shifting, difficulty speaking and chewing, and even more tooth loss -- not to mention a loss of self-confidence.
The cost of dentures can vary widely, with the average price range being somewhere between $650 to $2000. Upper partial dentures and lower partial dentures should not differ in cost, and partial dentures are generally less expensive than complete dentures.
There are ways to cover some of the costs for partial dentures, such as dental insurance, a dental discount plan, and applying for government assistance.
If you decide you'd prefer another method of tooth replacement, then you can opt for either a dental bridge or a dental implant procedure. Both offer advantages over partial dentures while also having their own drawbacks.
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