A partial denture is a removable appliance used to replace missing teeth. Partials help the remaining teeth stay in position, improve the ability to speak, and equally distribute chewing stress throughout the mouth. Its use is generally recommended for a patient who has too many teeth missing to properly support a fixed bridge, but who doesn't yet need complete dentures. A partial denture holds artificial teeth in place with a base that saddles the gums, and retainers that clasp onto adjacent teeth. If properly cared for, they can last as long as a fixed bridge. Their low cost also makes them advantageous to patients needing only one or two replacements of missing teeth. Maintaining a close fit is important in order to keep a partial functioning properly, so it should be checked at least once a year.
Full dentures are a complete set of artificial teeth used to replace natural teeth lost because of disease or decay. There are two primary methods for fitting dentures. The teeth can be extracted and the gums and jaw allowed to heal before the dentures are fitted, or dentures can be prepared in advance and inserted immediately after the extraction. Immediate dentures are more aesthetically pleasing, but they often require several fittings as the jaw heals and changes shape. They also allow the advantage of never needing to appear without teeth. Because dentures are foreign to the mouth, they require a certain period of adjustment. Denture wearers must learn to chew and speak with a new set of teeth. However, they can be advantageous to older wearers by adding fullness to lips and cheeks, and helping to reduce the appearance of mouth wrinkles. They also provide an alternative to patients with dental disease that want to avoid extensive treatments.