A partial is a natural-looking dental appliance that replaces one or several missing teeth and helps restore the form and function of your jaw. Unlike a bridge, which replaces missing teeth but permanently attaches to surrounding teeth, a partial is removable. The transformation for many patients is remarkable.
You have several choices, though, when choosing a partial. Scott Ford, Shelby Dental Center’s head dental technician, detailed the three most popular types and their pros and cons:
Cast Metal Partials
A cast metal partial is an excellent option for people with healthy, solid teeth who have lost a few teeth, Ford said.
“It’s designed to be more passive. It preserves the health of the existing teeth,” Ford said. “There is no movement, no settling because they are designed with a rest. It’s just better as a long-term appliance.”
With a frame made of rigid metal, they are designed to engage with the undercut of the tooth.
“These are typically the most expensive because of the precision and skill required to make the frame,” said Ford.
Acrylic partials are completely acrylic except for the wire clasps. They function much like a cast metal partial, but they are more flexible.
These partials are considered more of a temporary appliance. They are also more affordable and can be convenient for a couple of reasons. First, patients can get a partial on the same day they see a dentist. Second, Ford can add teeth to an acrylic partial if a patient loses another tooth. Cast metal partials can’t be updated to add more teeth, he said.
Flexible partials are constructed out of a thermoplastic material that is the same color as the human gum. These thin appliances are comfortable and considered more aesthetically pleasing because no wire is visible.
“It’s more of a specialty item,” Ford said. Flexible partials tend to be pricier than acrylic partials because of the skill required to make them. And, like the cast metal partials, flexibles can’t be expanded to add more teeth or easily repaired if they break or a tooth were to break off.
Talk to your dentist about which option makes more sense for you. Much of it depends on the health of your existing teeth, your comfort, and your budget.
Tips for Wearing Partials
Regardless of the kind of partial you choose, be prepared for some adjustment time once you get your new dental appliance. The American Dental Association offers these tips:
- The partial will feel bulky at first, but give it time, and you will become accustomed to wearing it.
- Inserting and removing the partial denture will require practice.
- Don’t force the partial denture into position by biting down, or you could bend or break the clasps.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions about when and how long to wear your partial.
- Eating should be easier with a partial, but start with soft foods.
Discover how our knowledgeable and friendly team at Shelby Dental Center in Calera, Ala., can help put aside your fears when visiting a dentist to improve your dental health.
To schedule an appointment at Shelby Dental Center to discuss whether dentures or implants would be best for you, call (205) 664-1190. Our office is open Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.