Teeth can go missing for a variety of reasons, but the most common are tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma. Both tooth decay and gum disease can cause teeth to fall out or need to be extracted. Trauma can cause teeth to become loose and require extraction or severe trauma can knock the tooth out entirely.
Regardless how the tooth is lost, a missing tooth or teeth results in gaps left in the mouth. To prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting and negatively affecting the bite, it is recommended by general dentists to replace missing teeth. One method of replacing missing teeth are partial dentures. While many people are familiar with full dentures, not as many know much about partial dentures. To learn more, here are five facts about partial dentures:
1. Keep Teeth in Their Place
Partial dentures use fake teeth to fill in the gaps left behind by missing teeth. This prevents adjacent teeth from slowly shifting in order to fill the gap. Although this may sound harmless, it can actually cause serious problems with the bite, temporomandibular joint, and teeth that can eventually lead to a loss of function. Keeping teeth in their place is important to maintain proper function.
2. Can Replace One or More Missing Teeth
Partial dentures are custom fabricated depending on the patient’s needs. This means that they can be fabricated to restore a single missing tooth, as well as to restore multiple missing teeth. In either case, the teeth adjacent to the gap must be healthy and strong enough to support the partial denture.
3. Need to be Kept Wet
Did you know that dentures must be kept moist at all times? The same goes for partial removable dentures. The materials used to fabricate dentures are designed to always be wet, therefore problems can arise if they become dried out. One common problem associated with dry dentures is a warped shape. To prevent dentures from becoming warped, they must be properly cared for by being stored in a glass of water or denture solution when they are not in the mouth.
4. Different Structure
Partial dentures have two different choices regarding the way they are structured, although both are equally effective. First, they can be constructed as a metal framework that contains metal clasps that wrap around the teeth for support. However, they can also be supported internally with precision attachments. In most cases, dental crowns must be placed on the adjacent teeth to place precision attachments, while metal framework can be used on natural and restored teeth.
5. There Will be an Adjustment Period
When trying anything new for the first time, you will often notice that you find yourself being uncomfortable or unsure. This is the same thing you can expect when you get dentures for the first time, even if they are just partial dentures. Often times, people note that they have difficulty eating and/or speaking once they have their partial dentures placed. The important thing to remember is that those things are temporary and will fade once your have adapted to the partial denture. In the first few weeks, it may be helpful to cut up your food into smaller pieces and to practice reading out loud to improve your speech.
Overall, partial dentures provide patients with missing teeth a minimally-invasive option for replacing their teeth. They keep teeth in their place, can be used to restore one or more missing teeth, must be cared for by being kept wet, have different structures, and take some getting used to. However, they can restore the gaps in smiles, as well as restoring chewing and speaking functions.
Dr. Paul H. Kim obtained his dental doctoral degree at the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2002. Upon graduation, he worked at a multi-specialty dental office in Los Angeles as an associate doctor until he opened his own dental practice in 2005. He has taught at UCLA Dental School as a clinical instructor. He has post-graduate training in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and sedation dentistry. He is an active member of several dental organizations, and he is currently teaching other doctors to provide quality dental services to their patients. He is passionate about helping people achieve great and confident smiles and good oral health.