Two Types of Removable Partial Dentures
Two Types of Removable Partial Dentures: Conventional or Precision Attachments
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary states that a partial denture is a removable or fixed prosthesis that restores one or more, but not all, of the natural teeth, and is supported by the remaining natural teeth and soft tissue, or both. It is also often called bridgework. We will be referring to them as removable partial dentures.
We will consider both the precision and the conventional partial dentures. Partials of either type replace the missing natural teeth. Removable partial dentures are utilized to replace these missing teeth not only for functional and esthetic reasons, but due to lack of strength by the remaining teeth to support a fixed bridge. Sometimes financial considerations dictate this treatment as the cost is less than fixed or cemented partial dentures. Conventional removable partial dentures have clasps which help retain the appliance, as well as acrylic areas containing teeth where the natural teeth are missing.
A removable precision partial denture, versus a conventional partial denture, has precision attachments which snap into the receiver which is placed within the crown (s) of adjacent teeth. No clasps show and this yields a more natural look. The precision partial denture is more expensive than the conventional partial in that additional crowns as well as the precision attachment themselves add to the overall cost.
The disadvantage of conventional partials is that in some cases, the clasps which attach to the adjacent natural teeth may be visible. This all depends on which teeth are missing. The advantage of the precision attachment partial is that no clasps show, the appearance is more natural, and the fit is usually improved. All partials should be checked for the need to be relined every few years in case there has been some bone shrinkage which creates space beneath the saddles over the missing teeth area.
Missing teeth, in the greatest majority of cases, should be replaced with either fixed bridges, implants, or removable partial dentures. Teeth constantly shift and change places, sometimes resulting in a change of facial structure, dipping of the cheeks, lip lines, speech, and loss of chewing power. TMJ Syndrome may be the end result if this situation is not properly managed.
It must be remembered that partial dentures require brushing and cleaning just like natural teeth, as they also collect bacterial plaque and tartar.
American Dental Association-Life Member, Emeritus Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Implant Dentistry