Who Is a Good Candidate for Partial Dentures?
Learn how you can regain a beautiful, unique smile with dentures.
When you think of dentures, what comes to mind? Many people have a very specific image in their head from comic strips and comedy routines. These jokes can make it seem impossible to have a beautiful, functional smile once you’ve lost multiple teeth. Thankfully, it’s so far from the truth! Modern dentures, whether partial or full dentures, look and feel very realistic—if they fit well, they should feel secure and natural when you eat and speak, and no one should realize you have them. Each denture is beautifully and carefully designed for the person getting them, allowing them to have a unique and naturally stunning smile.
There are even different types of dentures to ensure that you receive a treatment that fits all your needs and wants, making them a good tooth-replacement option. Partial dentures are one of these types of dentures, but they’re not as well-known as traditional dentures. How do they compare to full dentures and how do you know if you’re a good candidate for partial dentures? To help you learn more about them so that you have a better understanding of the treatments you’re interested in when you meet with your prosthodontist, we’ve put together a guide on partial dentures.
What are partial dentures?
Partial dentures consist of prosthetic teeth and acrylic gums, which are both tinted to match the color of your natural teeth and gums, so your dentures blend in with your smile naturally, going unnoticed. Their natural appearance is helped along by the fact that, just like other dental restorations, partial dentures are designed just for you. Customized dentures ensure that your restoration fits perfectly and comfortably while creating a smile that you’ll love.
In addition to the visible portions of your restoration, partial dentures sometimes have a metal framework that’s used to strengthen them or connect two groups of spaced-out false teeth. It’s not visible because it’s located behind your teeth, but it allows a single partial denture to fill gaps in your smile that might be separated by a stretch of healthy teeth. Many partial dentures are also fixed in place with attachments on the back of the healthy teeth next to the gap. These clasps keep your dentures firmly in place so that you can speak, eat, and laugh without worrying about them, but they’re also relatively easy to remove when you need to take your partial dentures out at night. These features give your restoration the strength, security, and appearance they need to give you a smile that’s as functional as it is beautiful.
How do they differ from other types of dentures?
Despite the similar purposes of partial and full dentures, there are plenty of ways they differ. Full dentures generally replace all of your teeth on one or both arches, but partial dentures are used when you still have some healthy teeth in your mouth. Since you still have healthy teeth to take care of, partial dentures carry out a vital additional purpose that full dentures don’t: preventing your healthy teeth from shifting in place. This is so important because it has a surprisingly big impact on your oral health!
Shifting teeth can change the way your remaining teeth fit together, making it harder to chew effectively, creating gaps between them that make it harder to floss and brush effectively, and potentially even causing misalignments. This can lead to symptoms like frequent headaches, clenching or grinding your teeth, or jaw issues like temporomandibular joint disorder. Thankfully, filling the gap in your teeth is all it takes to prevent these issues!
By sitting in the gap and preventing your teeth from shifting, partial dentures restore the function of your missing teeth, enabling you to carry out daily tasks like chewing, and protecting your long-term oral health by making it easier to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly. This helps you protect your natural teeth from tooth decay and gum disease, increasing the likelihood that your remaining teeth will be able to last you a lifetime!
What makes someone a good candidate for partial dentures?
If partial dentures sound like a good treatment option for you, the first thing you’ll likely find yourself wondering is if you’re a good candidate for them. Getting partial dentures is relatively simple, so most people are a good fit for this type of restoration. There are a few qualifications you’ll need to meet to be a good fit for them, though.
Good candidates for partial dentures have multiple missing teeth.
On the most basic level, a good candidate for partial dentures has multiple missing teeth but still has some healthy teeth to help anchor the restoration. Since metal framing allows some partial dentures to replace a couple of gaps at once, these missing teeth don’t have to be all in a single row—they just need to be on the same arch. That said, you likely need full dentures or implant-supported dentures if you’re missing all or most of the teeth in an arch, and one or two missing teeth are often best replaced with an implant or bridge.
Their surrounding teeth should be strong and healthy.
Since the teeth next to the gap in your smile often need to help support your partial dentures, these teeth need to be strong and healthy. If they aren’t, you might find yourself needing major dental work or even a tooth extraction in the future that forces you to retire your dentures before it would typically be time to replace them. When the teeth supporting your partial dentures are strong and healthy, your dentures are strong, too.
They have good oral health.
It’s not just the nearby teeth that need to be healthy—your oral health as a whole needs to be in great shape before you can get a partial denture. If you keep up with regular dental checkups or if you have recently gotten treatments for gum disease or tooth decay, you may be a good candidate for partial dentures because we know that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be! If you haven’t had treatments recently or know you need them, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever get partial dentures—it simply means that you need a dental evaluation and may need treatments to ensure your oral health is in great shape before you get them. You’ll also need to commit to a great at-home oral hygiene routine, including caring for and cleaning your dentures, and regular checkups with Dr. Staley. Doing this helps ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy in the long term and extends the life of your partial denture as long as possible.
What should you expect during the procedure?
Getting partial dentures is a lot like getting other types of dentures. It generally takes multiple appointments over several weeks to receive your final dentures. During your first appointment, Dr. Staley takes incredibly accurate molds and measurements of your teeth and asks questions about what you want your new smile to look like. This information is used to create dentures that feel comfortable and natural because they fit perfectly.
To further ensure a great fit, you’ll likely have several “try-in” appointments. These appointments are a lot like trying on a tailored suit or dress because they allow Dr. Staley to make changes to your partial dentures. At this stage, he’s able to adjust the fit, shape, and even the shade of the restoration to ensure that it looks and feels natural. Once you and Dr. Staley are happy with the results, he’ll have your final dentures made. You’ll come in for one last appointment so he can place them and teach you to remove them, and then you can go home with your new smile.
What’s aftercare like?
When you get partial dentures, you’ll need to commit to practicing a great oral hygiene routine at home. This includes brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily, as well as scheduling regular checkups with Dr. Staley every six months. Dr. Staley may ask you to wear your partial dentures constantly for a little while so that you and your gums can get used to them. After this, though, you should take them out to sleep.
Just like your teeth, dentures need daily care to ensure that they’ll last as long as possible. You should clean them using a denture-cleaning brush and denture cleaner or mild, clear hand soap. Partial dentures can break pretty easily when dropped, so place a towel in the bottom of the sink when you clean them just in case you drop them.
Don’t worry about remembering all the details right now, though! When you receive your dentures, Dr. Staley will send you home with specific care instructions to help you learn to care for them. You’ll also need to schedule yearly appointments to check the fit of your partial dentures, which can become loose as your jaw changes shape over time. Staying on top of their care pays off because it helps them to last longer, fit more comfortably, and continue functioning well over time.
If you’re missing multiple teeth, partial dentures could be the solution you need to start a new, improved chapter of your oral health. They give you the security of a healthier, more functional smile and allow you to regain confidence in your unique, naturally beautiful smile—it’s a daily difference that’s beyond worth the treatment process for many people! If you’d like to learn more about partial dentures and whether they’re right for you from a dentist in Boise, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Staley at any time.