A removable partial denture (RPD) is a type of denture for a patient who is missing some of their teeth and desires to have replacement teeth for functional or esthetic reasons and who cannot have a bridge or dental implant for any number of reasons, such as a lack of required teeth to serve as support for a bridge or lack of bone for a dental implant.
The reason why this type of prosthesis is referred to as a removable partial denture is because patients can remove and reinsert them when required without professional help. Conversely, a “fixed” prosthesis can and should be removed only by a dental professional.
Partials can be fabricated from many various materials: the teeth are made of plastic, porcelain or a combination thereof, the acrylic portion is usually flesh colored and many times metal clasps or wires help retain, or hold, the partial in place against the remaining teeth.
Partials serve many important functions in dentistry – including a permanent treatment for partially missing teeth, a transitional treatment until more permanent options can be completed, or an alternative option for a bridge or dental implant.
Partials over a normal course of time will wear and need to be replaced or relined in order to keep the jaw alignment normal. The alignment will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges recede or shrink due to the extraction of the teeth. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for disease or change.
See Following Dentures & Partials for after care home instructions.