Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are the most cost effective way to replace missing teeth. There are multiple types of removable partial dentures to choose from but all of them are able to be removed from the mouth for cleaning and maintenance. The three main types are resin based, valplast and metal based. The following are descriptions of each type and their benefits.
Resin Based: Resin based partial dentures have no metal framework to them. They are the cheapest of all removable partial dentures and have significant limitations. They aren’t meant to be a permanent solution for missing teeth, however, many patients never progress beyond them. The major downfall of these types of dentures is that they put a lot of pressure on the gums and underlying bone. Because of this the bone has a tendency to “melt” away leaving a denture that does not fit if it is used for any significant amount of time. Many times these types of dentures have flexible (wrought wire) clasps that attach to remaining teeth which helps keep them in place. The best use for this type of partial denture is as a temporary restoration during the healing phase of implant dentistry. They serve as an esthetic solution during that waiting period and are commonly called “flippers.”
Valplast: Valplast is a trade name. There are many "brands" of these types of flexible dentures. This type of partial denture is reportedly very comfortable and can have positive rest seats on the biting surface of remaining teeth. Because of this possibility these types of dentures place less pressure on the gums and bone and therefore don’t cause as much bone loss. They are possibly the most esthetic of the group since they rely on gum and tooth shaded clasps making them less visible to the casual observer.
Metal Based: Metal based partial dentures have a hard chromium-cobalt metal framework underneath the pink resin and teeth. These offer the most precise fit and place the least amount of pressure on the surrounding tissues and thus maintain the bone better than all other partial dentures. The clasps and rests on this type of partial denture are made of metal so they may be a bit less esthetic dependent on where they are placed. However, they offer the best fit and function. This is the best option for functional longevity of the partial denture.
As with most dental procedures, Removable Partial Dentures are not the end of the road for treatment. In most cases if there is a desire on the patients part to eventually move to bridges or implants removable partial dentures can be traded out for those more esthetic and functional treatments.