Partial refers to one of the two main types of dentures. As opposed to complete dentures which are used to replace a complete set of teeth (upper or lower) partial dentures are used to fill in the spaces caused by missing teeth and is a preventative measure to stop other teeth from changing position.
The by product of teeth changing position due to missing ones are that it can damage tissues within the mouth. Additionally crooked teeth lead to difficulty in thorough cleaning between teeth. This can further lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease which could further lead into the possible loss of other teeth. The use of partial dentures stops this process and has other benefits such as providing support for facial muscles improving oral functions such as speech and chewing ability and enhances one's facial appearance and smile.
Partial dentures are a removable dental appliance that utilizes a metal framework which connects a plastic gum-colored base with replacement teeth. There are two different ways that partial dentures can attach to your natural teeth: with metal clasps or precision attachments. Precision attachments generally require crowns on your natural teeth and are nearly invisible. Consequently they are more pleasing to the eye but generally cost more than partial dentures that utilize metal clasps.
Partial dentures are made in a similar way as complete dentures and are made to fit easily into one's mouth. One's dentist makes an impression of one's jaw and measures how one's jaws relate to each another as well as the bite relationship (the space between the jaws.) For the sake of aesthetics the shade of the replacement teeth will be made either from one's natural teeth or an existing partial denture if it is present. A dental laboratory is then given the impression bite and shade to complete the partial dentures to fit your oral characteristics.
Because a partial denture prevents one's mouth from changing it is important to wear it every day and also at night. Partial dentures may not fit as well as it should if it is not worn for an extended period of time. Additionally since one's mouth will change naturally over time adjustments for partial dentures will be required to keep its proper fit.
In order to take care of partial dentures it is recommended that it is rinsed after every meal. It should also be thoroughly cleaned at a minimum of once a day with a toothbrush tap water and toothpaste. Alcohol abrasive cleaners bleaches whiteners and boiling water should not be used in the cleaning. To avoid the chance of drying out and distorting partial dentures should be kept in tap water or denture cleaning solution when they are not being worn.