Generally speaking, there are two types of removable dental prosthesis – removable partial dentures for people who are missing some of their teeth, and complete dentures for people who are missing all of their teeth. This page covers removable partial dentures (RPDs); you can learn more about complete dentures (CDs) on our complete dentures page.
*Note that patients who are considering removable or complete dentures should also consider dental implants in their decision-making process. Dental implants are fantastic for replacing a small number of missing teeth, while implant dentures can be a life-altering solution for patients with loose or ill-fitting dentures (especially lower dentures).
What is a Removable Partial Denture?
A removable partial denture (RPD) is a dental prosthesis that is used to replace multiple missing teeth. If a patient is not a candidate for a fixed dental bridge, or a dental implant, then an RPD is an option. Generally, you will wear an RPD during the day in order to be able to eat comfortably and to be able to smile esthetically. At night, you remove the RPD to clean it and to give the tissues in the mouth a break from wearing the prosthesis.
How are RPD’s made?
An RPD can generally be made in two ways. The first type is made out of metal (cast) and has metal clasps to hold the denture in. The second type is made out of a flexible (i.e. flexite or Valplast) material and is used in places such as in the front of the mouth where esthetics are crucial. Compared to flexible RPDs, Metal RPDs are stronger, better to eat with, and are much easier to adjust if the prosthesis needs to be tightened, or if a tooth needs to be added at a later date. In some cases, we will fabricate a combination-type of partial, where we use the metal substructure of a cast RPD along with the flexible, esthetic clasps of a flexible RPD. There are advantages and disadvantages of this approach which we will be happy to discuss with you.
Is an RPD a Bridge?
No. Many people call removable partial dentures “bridges” – however, in dentistry we use the word “bridge” to refer to a fixed bridge in your mouth.