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Choosing The Best Material for Partial Dentures

Choosing The Best Material for Partial Dentures For You

Your partial dentures are a medical appliance that you will have to use and live with every day, so it’s important that you choose the type of material that will stand the test of time but also fit your budget.
Partial dentures are available in a variety of materials such as metal or acrylic, and each has its pros and cons. A consultation with your dentist can help you determine which is the best material for partial dentures for you.

“I Only Want Metal”

That was the directive from my patient this week; if you stop and think for a moment, it is quite strange. After all, we are already two decades into the 21st century, and metal in the mouth is not the accepted norm. We emphasize cosmetics and esthetics when it comes to oral care in the modern dental office.
This topic leads to a bigger question. Is there a place for any metal in the mouth in the year 2022? What is the best material for partial dentures?

What is the Best Material for Partial Dentures?

Let’s talk about this subject just a little and find out where we were and where we are today in dental health care.

Strength of Material is The Primary Consideration

There is one common denominator in all dental materials, and that is strength.

Chewing forces in the mouth are really beyond what one would think. Food comes in all shapes and consistencies, requiring the chewing process to manage a broad range of situations. The muscles that bring our jaws together generate a tremendous amount of force. When we couple this with tooth enamel, most foods are chewed and ground very well. Tooth enamel is harder than our bones, making it the strongest tissue in the body.

If not for decay, gum disease, or decades of abuse, our teeth would last forever. Since we know that teeth lasting a lifetime are a rarity, replacement issues come into play. Whether I replace an entire tooth or just a section of it, the new tooth must duplicate the strength of the natural tooth.

Dental Materials Throughout History

– Gold

In addition to replicating natural teeth from a strength standpoint, ease of creation and modification are factors to consider. In the earlier days of dentistry, various metals fit the bill. One of the first and most durable metals used in dentistry was gold. Gold teeth were easy to make and adjust afterward, making them an ideal material for tooth replacement.

– Light Alloy Metals

As time went on and the cost of gold increased, dentistry explored other metals to replace gold. New materials and alloys showed up in dental care with some but not all the benefits of gold.
One of the biggest changes and an improvement came in the area of removable bridges, which are also called partial dentures.
Newer alloy metals such as chrome cobalt are very thin and light when compared to gold. The strength of these materials allows the partial denture to be very thin, and I will tell you why this material feature is important.
As we get older, our teeth often wear down, and the space between the top and bottom teeth is minimal. If I were to use a softer material that requires more thickness to achieve strength, the rest of the teeth in the mouth would not close properly.

– Acrylic/Plastic 

When it comes to partial dentures, the more affordable alternative to metal is to use acrylic/plastic.
Some benefits of acrylic partial denture bases are that they look natural, and it’s generally much easier to add new teeth to an existing appliance.
However, while it is more economical, they are bulkier, not as comfortable, and are more prone to breakage than their metal counterparts. Additionally, they require more cleaning and hygiene considerations than metal partials.

Making The Choice That’s Best For You

When choosing which material is best for your partial dentures it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Affordability – Your partial dentures must meet your needs while not breaking your bank.
  2. Future Expansion – If more teeth are likely to need to be added in the future, and the cost is a major factor for you, acrylic may be the better choice.
  3. Your lifestyle – Metal partials are more durable and permanent. For people living more active lives, they are a better long-term solution.

My patient knew this as she tried other materials before coming to me.
I made her the original partial over 20 years ago; it stood up beautifully and served her well. Due to time and wear, and after two decades, she wanted something new and fresh in her mouth. She read about different materials for making teeth and heard some horror stories from her friends.
She knew what worked well for her and wanted another twenty years out of her next partial denture.

A good dental practitioner must stay abreast of the latest materials and techniques. That being said, there are times that tried-and-true techniques should be used as we know how well they help patients. If you are ready to help ensure that your teeth last a lifetime, please call us at 440.951.7856 for a discussion with me. I look forward to meeting you.

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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