If you have one or several missing teeth, you can replace them with a partial denture. A partial denture is a stand-in for natural teeth. It can be removable or permanent/fixed.
Removable partial dentures, or RPDs for short, are designed to take the place of your missing teeth, so you do not become self-conscious or embarrassed by the fact that you have gaps in your mouth, due to missing teeth. Dentures also make it easier for you to eat or chew your food.
Removable partial dentures are not fixed. You can remove them at the end of the day, clean them with a soft-bristled toothbrush, store them in a container filled with water or soaking solution, then put them back in the next day.
Fixed partial dentures are also called bridgework or bridges. You do not remove them at the end of the day. They are designed to be set in place permanently.
Fixed partial dentures must fit perfectly. Poorly-fitted bridgework can harm the gums, jaw or the remaining teeth. Your dentist may ask you to use temporary dentures while your fixed partial dentures are being made, so that the shape of your mouth can settle.
There are several types of temporary dentures. When you have an urgent need for temporary partials, your dentist may make flippers for you. Flippers are crafted from acrylic. They have wire loops to hold them in place. They may not look realistic compared to other types of partial dentures, but they can be made quickly.
There are also partial dentures made from cast metal. They are attached to precision attachments or clips that are hidden from view, so that the dentures will look real and natural.
An experienced qualified dentist can make dentures with the perfect fit. However, you need to make several dental visits for fittings and adjustments. Poorly fitted partial dentures can be uncomfortable to wear, if not painful. They can cause the gums to bleed, the jaw to be improperly set, and the remaining natural teeth to become crooked.
Even partial dentures that fit perfectly the first time you get them can change their fit over time. The shape of your mouth may change, causing your dentures to budge and become painful or uncomfortable.
You need to visit your dentist regularly as part of your oral care program. Your dentist can help ensure that your teeth, gums and jaw are healthy. Your dentist may do prophylaxis and take x-rays to ensure that there is nothing wrong with your gums and teeth.
Your dentist can check your dentures to assess if they are in good shape, and that there are no cracks, chips or other forms of damage that need to be addressed. He will also check to determine if certain adjustments are necessary.