Partial Dentures: Costs & Types

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What Are Partial Dentures?

Partial dentures, also called partials, are artificial replacement teeth that restore a few missing teeth in a patient’s mouth. The surrounding tissues in the oral cavity support dentures.

Partials replace a few missing teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Full dentures, on the other hand, replace an entire set of teeth. 

removable partial denture lower jaw

Partial dentures are often necessary if you’ve lost some teeth due to:

  • Severe tooth decay
  • Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
  • A facial or jaw injury 
  • Tooth extraction 
  • Poor oral care and natural aging 

Partial dentures are typically removable. Removable partial dentures consist of false teeth, a gum-colored base, and metal or plastic clasps. However, partial dentures can also be fixed into the mouth, which means they are permanent. Fixed partial dentures are also referred to as dental bridges. 

Types of Partial Dentures

Partial dentures come in both fixed and removable forms. The type of denture you need depends on your oral health standing, how many teeth are missing, and your budget:

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Removable Partial Dentures

Removable partial dentures are removable dental prostheses. If you still have some natural teeth in your mouth, your dentist will likely recommend removable partial dentures.

There are three types of removable partials, including:

1. Cast Metal Partial Denture

A cast metal framework partial is the most common type of removable partial denture. Cast metal partial dentures consist of a gum-colored, acrylic base and false teeth. The denture base is held in place by two or more clasps. The clasps can be made of either clear plastic, pink plastic, or metal (wironium). Dentures with precision attachments (clear or pink clasps) cost more than metal clasps but are more aesthetically pleasing. 

A cast metal partial denture base is made of a mixture of several metals. This denture is lightweight, has a high degree of stability, and is resistant to plaque build-up (with proper care). Cast metal partials are an ideal choice for patients seeking a long-term solution.  

2. Flexible Partial Denture

Flexible partial dentures are made of a flexible plastic material. These dentures produce high aesthetic results and blend in with your natural teeth and gum tissue color. Flexible partials are an excellent choice for patients who are allergic to acrylic. Valplast is a well-known brand that creates flexible partial dentures. 

Flexible partial dentures cannot be repaired if they develop a crack or break. You must replace the entire denture. Because of this, flexible partials are typically only used as a temporary solution for missing teeth. 

3. Acrylic Partial Denture (Flipper)

An acrylic partial denture is often a temporary option that consists of a removable acrylic base, a plastic replacement tooth or teeth, and optional metal clasps. This type of denture is less effective and comfortable than a cast metal partial denture. Acrylic partials are the least expensive type of removable denture and are not meant to last a long time. 

Fixed Partial Dentures

Fixed partial dentures are also called fixed bridges. They are non-removable dental prostheses that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Common types of fixed partial dentures include:

  • Traditional bridge — consists of ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or all-metal like gold. Traditional bridges have one or more fake teeth and two dental crowns on each side that hold the bridge in place. 
  • Cantilever bridge — a cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional bridge. However, this type of bridge only supports the fake tooth from one side. 
  • Maryland bridge — Maryland bridges are made of porcelain or gold. They have “wings” that bond to the adjacent teeth, which keeps the bridge stable. This type of bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth. 
  • Implant-supported bridge dental implants entirely support these bridges. They are ideal for patients who are missing three or more back teeth.

Partial Dentures Cost

Removable partial dentures cost anywhere between $650 and $2,500 (upper or lower, not both). The price of flexible partial dentures ranges from $900 to $2,000. Flipper teeth cost between $300 and $500. 

A fixed denture (dental bridge) is the most expensive. Depending on the type, a bridge can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $6,500. Many full dental insurance plans cover up to 50 percent of the cost of dentures.

How long does a partial denture last?

A cast metal removable partial denture can last up to 50 years with proper care. Fixed dentures (bridges) can last between five and 15 years.  

Do partial dentures look natural?

No. Partial dentures attach the fake tooth or teeth to adjacent teeth, so there is no natural appearance of the tooth emerging from the gums. Since metal cast partial dentures consist of a metal framework, they do not look as natural as fixed partial dentures. Dentures with precision attachments (clear or pink clasps) cost more than metal clasps but are more natural-looking. 

Can you eat with partials?

It is safe to eat with partial dentures in your mouth. When you first get your dentures, start by eating soft foods and cut them into small pieces. Do not eat sticky or hard foods for a few days after getting your new partial denture. You should also try to chew on both sides of your mouth to level out the pressure. 

It is essential to soak your removable partial dentures in a denture cleaner every night to remove food particles and bacteria. 

Is a metal or plastic partial denture better?

Metal dentures are more expensive than partial plastic dentures. However, metal dentures are more stable, fit better, and are less bulky. Plastic dentures tend to feel looser in the mouth and are bulky. They may also take more time to get used to. 

Is a bridge of removable partial denture better?

Fixed dentures, also referred to as dental bridges, are not removable. They are also more expensive than removable partial dentures. However, removable partials do not require an invasive procedure, are easy to clean, and can be removed at any time.

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Resources

Dental Crafters, Cast Frame Partial. https://www.dentalcrafters.net/dentures-partials/cast-frame-partial/.

“Dental Implant Surgery | AAOMS.” AAOMS Official Site | Experts in Face, Mouth, and Jaw Surgery, myoms.org/procedures/dental-implant-surgery.

Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.

MouthHealthy, Removable Partial Dentures. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dentures-partial.

Singh, Kunwarjeet et al., Flexible thermoplastic denture base materials for aesthetical removable partial denture framework., Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 7,10 (2013): 2372-3, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3843478/.

Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.

Updated on: October 20, 2020
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Alyssa Hill
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