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Sometimes, patients can't afford dental implants or fixed bridgework. Moreover, in some clinical situations, dental implants or fixed bridges cannot be placed because of general or local conditions. Find out when can Removable Partial Dentures be a viable alternative and how are these restorations designed and manufactured

Removable partial dentures, a complete review

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

Removable partial dentures (or RPDs) can be a viable alternative to fixed bridgework or implants as a means of replacing missing teeth.

removable partial dentures

A removable partial denture consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is sometimes connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth.

Removable partial dentures replace one or more teeth, while full dentures replace all the teeth in a jaw.

RPDs can be removed from the mouth by the patient as opposed to fixed bridgework that is definitely cemented on the abutment teeth and cannot be removed from the mouth.

When are removable partial dentures used ?

Generally, RPDs can be used in two situations:

  1. As a temporary solution to restore function and aesthetics during the transition to more long-term and definitive tooth replacements.

  2. As a permanent solution to replace some missing teeth when patients can't afford dental implants or fixed bridgework. In most cases, RPDs are much less expensive than either dental implants, or fixed bridgework.

    Moreover, in some clinical situations, dental implants or fixed bridges cannot be placed. For example, some serious general or local conditions can make anesthesia, surgical procedures and the overall implant placement inadvisable (see dental implants contraindications).

    On the other hand, dental bridges cannot be executed when the number of remaining teeth is not enough to support the bridge or some teeth are unsuitable (see dental bridges). In such situations, RPDs can also be viable alternatives.

Types of removable partial dentures

Removable partial dentures generally attach to the remaining teeth by means of rests, clasps or precision attachments. They are supported by the gum ridge areas where the teeth once were and, in the case of an upper RPD, the palate (or roof of the mouth). There are more types or RPDs:

How are removable partial dentures made ?

In most cases, dental implants are today's state-of-the-art tooth replacement systems, while fixed bridgeworks represent the next best alternative. However, precision RPDs are also designed to last for years. In fact, they were quite commonplace before the routine use of implants.

The design of precision RPDs is quite critical to their success and will generally depend on two key factors:

The removable denture development process may take more weeks and several appointments. Once your dentist determines what type of appliance is best for you, he or she will usually make a series of impressions of your jaws and determine how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.

The impressions are sent to a dental lab, where the technician will create a series of models, wax forms, and plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made.

removable partial denture on a dental cast

removable partial denture on a dental cast

One or more appointments may be needed to assess the denture for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.

What to expect/do after the removable denture is finalized ?

Caring for your dentures

Are dentures worn 24 hours a day ?

During the first several days after receiving your denture, you may be asked to wear it all the time, including while you sleep. It is the quickest way to identify the areas on the denture that may need adjustment.

Once adjustments are made, your dentist may advise you to remove the denture before going to bed. This allows gum tissues to rest and allows normal stimulation and cleansing by the tongue and saliva. The denture can be put back in the mouth in the morning.

Cleaning your dentures

Because of the way RPDs attach to the remaining teeth and the fact that they rest on the gums, they tend to accumulate a lot of bacterial plaque. This can increase the risk of both periodontal diseases and tooth decay. Therefore, excellent daily oral hygiene together with scrupulous care of the removable denture, are all prerequisites to success.

Read this article for complete instructions on how to clean and take care of your dentures.


Over time, adjusting the denture may be necessary. As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture. Your bone and gum ridges can recede or shrink, resulting in a poorly fitting denture.

Dentures that do not fit properly should be adjusted by your dentist. This procedure is called relining or rebasing.

Poorly fitting dentures can cause various problems, including sores or infections. See your dentist promptly if your denture becomes loose, and maintain your regular visits, too.

Should I use a denture adhesive ?

Always ask your dentist before using a denture adhesive, as there are situations when denture adhesives should not be used. Dental adhesives are safe as long as they are used as directed.

If the denture is well-fitting and the adhesive is only used to give added stability, there should be no side effects. If adhesives are used excessively to fill voids for an ill-fitting denture, they can be harmful to the underlying soft and hard tissues.


ADA -- American Dental Association:

Dear Doctor, Dentistry and Oral Health:

Dear Doctor, Dentistry and Oral Health:

Last review and update: February 2019

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