Partial dentures: Cost, types & maintenance tips

Partial dentures are a dental solution designed to replace missing teeth, offer an affordable and effective way to restore smiles.

Comprising of various materials, these dentures adapt seamlessly, enhancing both functionality and aesthetics. Understanding their types, benefits, and costs is crucial for those considering this dental option.

What are partial dentures?

Partial dentures are a type of dental prosthesis used to replace one or several missing teeth when some natural teeth remain. Unlike full dentures, which replace all teeth on either the upper or lower jaw, partial dentures fill in the gaps created by missing teeth and prevent other teeth from changing position. 

They are custom-made to fit the patient's mouth and are typically attached to the remaining teeth with clasps or precision attachments, making them easily removable for cleaning and maintenance.

Types of partial dentures

Choosing the right type of partial denture depends on various factors such as dental needs, budget, and personal preference. There are primarily three types of partial dentures: cast metal, acrylic, and flexible partial dentures. Each type has its unique features and benefits, catering to different requirements and preferences.

Cast metal partial dentures

Cast metal partial dentures are renowned for their durability and strength. They consist of a metal framework that attaches to the natural teeth with clasps, providing a stable and comfortable fit. 

The metal framework is usually made of an alloy containing cobalt and chromium, making it both lightweight and robust. These dentures are a long-term solution and are highly customizable to the unique contours of a patient's mouth.

Acrylic partial dentures

Acrylic partial dentures are a more economical option and are typically used as a temporary solution while waiting for a permanent denture. They consist of replacement teeth set in an acrylic base, which is designed to match the colour of the gums. 

The acrylic dentures are held in place by metal clasps that fit around the existing teeth. While they are less durable than metal partials, they are often quicker to manufacture.

Flexible partial dentures

Flexible partial dentures are a modern alternative, made from a thin, heat-sensitive type of plastic. They adapt perfectly to the shape of the gums and existing teeth, offering a high level of comfort and aesthetics. 

The material used is translucent, allowing the natural gum colour to show through, and the lack of metal clasps makes them more visually appealing. They are an ideal choice for patients who are allergic to metals used in traditional dentures.

Average cost of partial dentures in the UK

The cost of partial dentures can vary widely depending on several factors. Generally, the price range for partial dentures in the UK is between £400 and £1,500. 

This broad range reflects the diversity in the types of partial dentures available, from basic acrylic models to more advanced and durable options like cast metal or flexible partials. The cost also depends on the number of teeth that need to be replaced and the complexity of the dental work required.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Partial Dentures

Several factors can influence the final cost of partial dentures, including the materials used, the complexity of the design, labour costs, and geographic location.

  • Material and design complexity

The choice of material significantly impacts the cost. Acrylic dentures are generally more affordable, while metal and flexible dentures, known for their durability and comfort, are more expensive. The design complexity also plays a role; a denture that requires a more intricate design or special customization will cost more due to the additional labour and skill required.

  • Labour and dental clinic costs

The cost of labour for the dentist and the dental technician who fabricates the dentures can vary. The expertise of the dentist, the time spent on creating the dentures, and the technology used in the process can all affect the price. Additionally, the overhead costs of the dental clinic, including location, equipment, and staff, are factored into the price of the dentures.

  • UK location variations in pricing

Geographic location can significantly impact the cost of partial dentures. Prices may vary based on local market conditions, the cost of living in the area, and the availability of dental services. In some regions, dental services may be more competitively priced due to a higher number of providers, while in others, prices may be higher due to limited availability or higher operational costs.

Maintenance and care for partial dentures

Proper maintenance and care are crucial for extending the life of partial dentures and ensuring oral health. This includes daily cleaning and maintenance, regular dental check-ups, and proper handling and storage.

  • Daily cleaning and maintenance

Daily cleaning of partial dentures is essential to prevent plaque build-up and staining. It's recommended to remove the dentures after meals for cleaning. Use a soft-bristle brush and a non-abrasive cleaner specifically designed for dentures. 

Avoid using regular toothpaste as it can be too harsh. Soaking the dentures overnight in a cleaning solution can help maintain their shape and hygiene. It’s also important to gently brush the gums, tongue, and palate every morning before putting the dentures back in.

  • Regular dental check-ups

Regular dental check-ups are important for denture wearers. Dentists can adjust the fit of the dentures, ensuring comfort and preventing sores or irritation. These check-ups also allow for professional cleaning and examination of oral health. It's generally recommended to visit the dentist every six months, but the frequency can vary based on individual needs and the dentist's advice.

  • Handling and storage

Proper handling and storage of partial dentures are important to prevent damage. When not in use, store them in a clean, dry place or in a denture soaking solution. Avoid using hot water for soaking as it can warp the dentures. 

Handle them carefully to avoid dropping, as even a small fall can cause them to break or become misshapen. Regularly inspect your dentures for any signs of wear or damage and consult your dentist if any adjustments are needed.

Partial dentures vs full dentures

Partial dentures and full dentures serve the same purpose, to replace missing teeth, but they cater to different needs. Partial dentures are designed for individuals who still have some natural teeth remaining. These dentures fill in the gaps, preventing the remaining teeth from shifting and maintaining the integrity of the jaw structure. 

On the other hand, full dentures are for individuals who have lost all their teeth in an arch (upper or lower) and require a complete set of prosthetic teeth. Full dentures rest on the gums, whereas partial dentures are anchored to existing teeth with clasps or attachments.

Benefits of partial dentures

Opting for partial dentures comes with several advantages:

  • They help maintain the structure of the jaw and face, preventing the sagging of facial muscles. 

  • They also enable better chewing and speech, improving overall quality of life. 

  • Partial dentures are less invasive than other dental procedures, like bridges or implants, and can be more cost-effective. 

  • Additionally, they are customizable to match the colour and shape of existing teeth, ensuring a natural look. 

For those seeking a balance between functionality, aesthetics, and budget, partial dentures are an excellent choice.

Who is a good Candidate for partial dentures?

Ideal candidates for partial dentures are individuals who have lost one or more teeth but still retain a significant number of healthy natural teeth. These dentures are particularly beneficial for those who seek a less invasive and more affordable solution than dental implants or bridges. 

Good oral health is important for the success of partial dentures, as they rely on the remaining teeth for support. It's also crucial for candidates to have a commitment to oral hygiene, as proper care and maintenance of the dentures are essential for their longevity and effectiveness.

 

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to get used to partial dentures?

Adjusting to partial dentures usually takes a few weeks to a few months. New wearers may initially experience discomfort, increased saliva, and difficulty speaking and eating. These issues typically lessen over time. Regular dental visits for adjustments help, and most people eventually find comfort in speaking and eating with their dentures.

Do partial dentures hurt?

Partial dentures may cause temporary discomfort, like soreness or tightness, during the initial adjustment period. Proper fitting is key to reducing discomfort, and regular dental visits are important for adjustments. Persistent or severe pain should be addressed by a dentist.

Can you eat normally with partial dentures?

It takes time to adjust to eating with partial dentures. Start with soft foods and gradually reintroduce harder foods. Chew slowly and use both sides of the mouth. Most people eventually eat normally, but caution is advised with very hard or sticky foods.

What are the alternatives to partial dentures?

Alternatives include dental bridges, which are non-removable prosthetics anchored to adjacent teeth, and dental implants, which involve surgically inserting a metal post for a replacement tooth. Bridges are less invasive but alter adjacent teeth, while implants are more stable and preserve jawbone health but are more invasive.