A partial denture can be a decent replacement in cases of a missing tooth or teeth.
An RPD – removable partial denture is usually made with metal and plastic of a gum-like colour. It is worn like an orthodontic retainer. It is relatively cheap and is the most non-invasive option, so in cases of certain medical problems it still can be used. There are however disadvantages to using a removable partial denture. Those are some of them:
- RPDs need to be cleaned daily and removed for sleeping
- The partials need the support of the adjacent teeth
- They are large even in case of only one or two missing teeth
- They are bulky and can be visible in the appearance of your smile
- They are often uncomfortable and need adjusting to function properly
Those are minor disadvantages but there are also bigger consequences for missing teeth and using partials.
Consequences of Missing Teeth and Partials
There are many reasons that people lose teeth over time including, decay, fracture, failed root canal therapy, and periodontal (gum) disease. It can be a frustrating, and often painful process to lose one tooth after another. In addition, a number of significant problems can result from multiple missing teeth including:
- Bone resorption (deterioration) and loss of jaw height
- Adjacent teeth migrating into spaces created by tooth loss or removal
- Teeth in the opposing jaw moving up or down into the gaps created by missing teeth
- Anterior teeth flaring out when posterior teeth are missing
- Cheeks caving in and the corners of the mouth drooping, creating pockets that can collect saliva
- Excessive wear on the remaining teeth
- Painful dysfunction of the jaw joints.
In the past, when all, or most of the posterior teeth were missing, without teeth on both sides of the gap to secure a bridge, the only treatment option was a removable partial denture. Although the partial provides some function for patients, there are serious consequences that result from wearing partials for an extended period of time, such as:
- Bone resorption is accelerated when partials press down on tissues and compact them
- Hooks put pressure on teeth, resulting in teeth becoming loose and eventually lost over time
- Partials are uncomfortable, rocking back and forth when chewing and often pinching the gums
- Partials have large amounts of plastic with metal hooks, which are often visible, in the mouth
- As the bone melts away, partials must be relined periodically with material to make them thicker
- It is not uncommon to replace partials every 3-5 years