Things You Need to Know About Partial Dentures

Devices other than partial dentures  which attempt to replace the appearance and function of a tooth are:

  • bridge. It is not removable but is permanently fastened in place to adjacent teeth.
  • or an implant. These are devices which permanently attach themselves directly to the bone of the jaw and protrude through the gum just as teeth do. At Growing Beautiful Smiles, we do not provide implant services, but a will be happy to discuss them with you and put you in touch with practitioners who do.


One way to replace a tooth or several teeth is with a partial denture.  There are many things to consider…

  1. Location:

    A partial denture can be made for the upper jaw (“upper partial denture”) and/or the lower jaw (“lower partial denture.”)


  3. Fixed in Place or Removable?

    A partial denture is removable; the patient can take it in and out – wear it or not wear it. Almost always, the plan is to wear it during waking hours and leave it out while sleeping.

    • The advantages of a removable device are:

      1. The remaining natural teeth and supporting structures are more easily cleaned and maintained by the patient.

      2. A removable partial denture is less expensive than its alternatives.

      3. A removable partial denture is less invasive than its alternatives.

    • The disadvantages of removable partial dentures are:

      1. Chewing is less effective than it is be with a non-removable device.

      2. There is the psychological disadvantage of having a “fake” body part.


  4. The Intended Lifetime

    Partial dentures are either

    • “permanent” – intended to function for several years.

    • “transitional” (temporary) – intended to function for a few weeks of months – usually waiting for a healing process to complete before another path is chosen.


  5. The material being used:

    • Metal Alloy:

      In the mainstream, partial dentures are made a from a metal alloy “skeleton” (called a framework) with pink plastic built on it to represent gum tissue. Porcelain or plastic “teeth” are embedded in the pink plastic. That is the mainstream’s usual design for permanent partial dentures.

      • The advantages of the metal-based (“cast metal”) partial denture are:

        1. The metal provides rigidity and strength to the device.

        2. By its design it allows the forces of biting on the device to be transferred to the remaining natural teeth as much as possible. That makes it more efficient at chewing.

      • The disadvantages of the metal-based (“cast metal”) partial denture are:

        1. Possible hypersensitivity to, or toxic effects of, the metal or plastic. (See Item 7 below.)

        2. Possible galvanic (electric) effects.

        3. Aesthetic considerations. Some of the silver-colourd metal will show. By a variety of techniques that can be minimized.

    • Plastic Only:

      The other option to a metal-based partial denture is a “plastic” denture.

      • The advantages of the plastic partial denture are:

        1. Metal sensitivities are avoided.

        2. They are less expensive than the metal-based devices.

      • The disadvantages of the plastic partial denture are:

        1. Possible sensitivity to the plastic or toxicity of the plastic is still an issue. (See Item 7 below.)

        2. Plastic lacks the strength to transfer chewing forces to the remaining natural teeth. The denture transfers all the force of chewing to the gum tissue which is far more “springy” than the teeth are. What this means is that a person will not chew as effectively with a plastic partial denture compared to a metal-based partial denture.

  6. When the Device is Provided:
    • “Standard” – The partial denture is provided to replace a tooth or teeth extracted in the past.

    • “Immediate” – The partial denture is provided at the same appointment that the tooth or teeth are extracted. This prevents “facing the world” with a missing tooth or teeth and helps protect the extraction sites during healing. Immediate dentures will almost certainly need relines.

  7. Which Teeth Are Being Replaced:
    • “Tooth Borne” – The tooth or teeth being replaced by the partial denture has a natural tooth at each end of the “gap” to support and “anchor” the device.

    • “Free-End” – The tooth or teeth being replaced by the partial denture has no natural tooth at the back end of the “gap” to support the device. The denture will be a bit loose at the back.

  8. Your Choices about Materials Safety

  9. In the alternative world there tends to be more concern than the mainstream about the safety of the materials used.

    • Metals

      In general, the metals used in partial dentures are similar to kitchenware. While few people are concerned about the toxicity of putting a spoon in their mouths while eating, many would question the safety of being in contact with that metal for sixteen hours each day. Those most inclined to question the long-term exposure to such metals are those who already know they have metal allergies, those who are chronically ill, or those who are being proactive about avoiding such illness. Those are the people who tend to seek the services of a practice that does not march in lock-step with the mainstream.

    • Pink Plastic

      Pink (gum coloured) acrylic (plastic) used to achieve it colour using cadmium salts. Assuming that everything eventually leaches out of everything, that is not a good choice. Cadmium is toxic. We always specify that a denture be made from “cadmium free” material, although we have some doubt that cadmium is still used for this purpose.

    • Curing the Plastic

      The plastic is generally supplied to the dental laboratories as a powder (polymer) and a liquid (monomer.) A polymer is a bunch of identical molecules (the monomers) bound together. When these two are mixed together, a chemical (“polymeriation”) reaction occurs, especially when heat is applied. The longer the duration of the heat, the more complete the reaction which involves the monomers causing the linking of the existing polymers into ever larger polymers.

      Some toxicity or hypersensitivity will be due to unbound molecules (monomer) that failed to participate in the reaction. These unreacted monomer molecules can leach out and potentially interfere with the patient’s biochemistry.

      The late Dr. Hulda Clark had a “recipe” in one of her books that instructed dental patients how to heat the dentures at home to complete the polymerization reaction. There was a risk of overheating and destroying the denture in this process. The dental laboratory we use safely continues the application of heat for hours beyond what is usual to reduce massively (eliminate?) the monomer. That is far better than what Hulda Clark specified.

    • Be Proactive!

      Having said that, it is prudent to assume that some undisclosed ingredient, perhaps something the denture material manufacturer considers a “proprietary secret” is in the denture. It is also prudent to assume that it is leaching out. The sad fact is that we live in a toxic world. At Growing Beautiful Smiles we do what we can to minimize toxins. That does not mean we eliminate them! Assume therefore that your denture is one more component of the toxic environment in which you live. Take steps to detoxify from heavy metals and estrogens. Your best bet is to consult a naturopathic doctor who is trained in detoxification.

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