Losing some of your teeth can lead to diminished confidence. Thankfully, if your smile has a few gaps, removable partial dentures (RPDs) can help you fill it out again. This device contains replacement teeth that you can put in and take out of your mouth freely.
Are you embarrassed by the gap in your smile? You aren't alone. You might be surprised to learn how many people have lost one, some or all of their teeth. An article published in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry notes that 43.7 percent of adults in the U.S. have had at least one tooth extracted, and 43.1 percent of adults over 65 have lost six or more teeth. The average American adult over the age of 65 retains approximately 19 of their natural teeth. So, while advances in medicine have fortunately led to increased life expectancy, it means more and more people need devices to restore the missing parts of their smile.
Your dentist may suggest several options to replace your missing teeth, including bridges, dental implants which are surgically placed and removable partial dentures. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry explains that removable partial dentures (RPDs) can look a little less natural than implants, and the bone underneath the missing teeth may shrink and weaken over time. However, RPDs are the more cost-effective teeth replacement option, and patients are not required to undergo the dental surgery that's necessary for dental implants.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), RPDs are made of gum-colored bases that hold replacement teeth and attach to the adjoining natural teeth via clasps or devices called precision attachments. The base of the dental prosthetic includes a framework that's made from either a low-irritant metal, such as titanium or cobalt-chromium, or a metal-free alternative, such as a high-performance polymer, as noted in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry article. You should discuss the pros and cons of each RPD material with your dentist to determine which is right for you.
The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry article states that metal frameworks on RPDs offer the advantages of slimness and strength, and they conduct heat and cold, which helps the denture feel natural in the mouth. On the other hand, metals in the mouth can cause hypersensitivity, irritation to the mouth tissue, breakdown of the adjacent natural teeth and an accumulation of mouth bacteria. Over years of wear, the metal clasps can also become distorted.
Due to these concerns, metal-free alternatives have been developed. Polymer-based RPDs look more natural and are more elastic and lighter than metal frameworks. These newer dental prosthetics are also cheaper and easier to produce and repair, which makes them a more cost-effective option. However, RPDs made from polymers may be more brittle and break down faster than their metal counterparts. The heat conductivity is also poor, and they may possibly even leach chemicals.
The Canadian Dental Association explains that, to fit an RPD, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth to make a model of your teeth. This model is used to create an RPD that's custom-fitted to the shape of your mouth. If you've had teeth extracted, you'll need to wait until the jaw tissues and gums have healed before you can wear your denture. The ADA advises that your dentist may ask you to wear your denture all the time at first so that you can identify and report any areas that feel uncomfortable. After any necessary adjustments have been made, you can remove the denture at night.
As your mouth changes shape over time, your denture may become loose and need refitting. It's important to contact your dentist if your denture ever becomes loose or uncomfortable, so they can take steps to ensure it fits perfectly in your mouth.
Removable replacement dentures offer a budget-friendly option for filling the gap in your smile and restoring your confidence. Furthermore, the procedure for fitting the prosthetic is straightforward and painless, and the results are convincing. If you're unsure whether RPDs are the right option for you, speak to your dentist or prosthodontist for more advice.