Not everyone who requires dentures will need an entire replacement set of upper or lower teeth. There are many people who require the replacement of only a few teeth, and for such individuals partial dentures are usually the answer. Why replace the missing teeth at all? As we grow and develop permanent teeth, the bones and muscles of our jaws, head and neck grow to accommodate them. When teeth are lost, this leaves a gap in the bite pattern that will change how food is chewed and even how we hold our mouths at rest. This can cause the surrounding bones and muscles to respond, creating discomfort or stress in the jaw, head and neck. Additionally, without enough teeth we may not be able to chew food properly which can lead to changes in the diet that can further impact the health and well being of the individual with the missing teeth. These are the reasons it is important to have dentures properly fitted where teeth no longer exist.
Generally, people don’t lose all of their teeth at one time, though this is not unheard of, and most will require a partial denture to meet their needs. Partial dentures are created to fit around remaining healthy teeth. While they are removable, they are usually fitted around the natural teeth with a metal or plastic anchor that holds the partial denture in place. Partial dentures are created by making a mold of the existing teeth, bare gums and jaw area where they will reside. A dentist will create the dentures from the selected materials and fit them into place only if the area is free of swelling or irritation. Some patients will require temporary dentures if the area has had any dental or surgical procedures performed, and usually a period of six to twelve months is required to adequately heal. Modern dentures are made from a choice of materials, and it is up to the patient to select their material, as it greatly affects cost and appearance. For example, the polymer dentures have a more natural appearance and are much more durable than the more conventional plastic dentures. These are the reasons so many people will opt to pay the higher cost for polymer dentures. Some dentures will require the use of various metals to make them fit better, and this too will increase the cost.
Caring for partial dentures requires the same effort as caring for a full set of dentures, and should be incorporated into any existing oral hygiene plans. Patients with partial dentures should brush their teeth after each meal, and they should also remove and brush their dentures as well. This is to ensure that they are not holding any food particles that could irritate the gums of the wearer. Additionally, for safety’s sake and in order to maintain the health of the mouth, partial dentures must be removed at night. This allows saliva to coat the gums and lining of the mouth, which keeps bacteria balanced, and it also allows the partial dentures to be soaked in a cleansing solution that will destroy bacteria, leaving the wearer free of any possible irritants. Traditionally partial denture wearers find it necessary to visit their dentists regularly to monitor the condition of their gums and to perform any required maintenance on their dentures.