What is a partial denture?
This is a plate with one or more false teeth on it. It may be all plastic or a mixture of metal and plastic. Both types may have clips (clasps) to help keep the denture in place in your mouth. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may show when you smile or open your mouth.
What is the difference between a plastic partial denture and one that contains metal?
Plastic partial dentures are less expensive to make. But unless they are designed very carefully they can damage the teeth they fit against.
Metal partial dentures are usually made from an alloy of cobalt and chromium, and they are much stronger. They are lighter to wear and can be supported by the remaining teeth. Although the base is metal, they have gum-coloured plastic and natural-looking teeth fixed to them. They are more expensive than plastic ones.
How do I choose the best type for me?
Be guided by your dentist. They will know the condition of your remaining teeth. In most cases a metal-based partial denture gives the best result.
How do I look after my denture?
The general rule is: brush, soak and brush again. Always clean your denture over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop it. Brush your denture before soaking them, to help remove any bits of food. Using an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher - always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Then brush the denture again, as you would your own teeth, being careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface.
Most dentists advise using toothpaste and a small- to medium-headed toothbrush. Make sure you clean all the surfaces of the denture, including the surface which fits against your gums. This is especially important if you use any kind of denture fixative.
If you notice a build-up of stains or scale, have your denture cleaned by your dental team.
Should I take my denture out at night?
Your dental team may recommend taking out your dentures at night to give your mouth a chance to rest. If you do this, it is important to leave it in water to prevent any warping or cracking.
What is the alternative to a partial denture?
The main alternatives are a fixed bridge or a dental implant. A dental bridge is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the gap, and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. This is all made in the laboratory and then the pieces are cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge can't be removed.
Another option is an adhesive bridge. This has ‘wings' that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth, with very little drilling needed.
Are there other methods for fixing false teeth?
There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dental team about them.