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what is the difference between rigid and flexible partial dentures? i'm going to need them for my upper teeth, and would like more opinions than just my dentist's about any differences or advantages to either kind. thank you.

5 doctor answers
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
40 years experience Dentistry
You've : You've asked an excellent question and there will be many answers from the experts on this panel. Volumes can be written on this subject. I will keep my answer short. Partial dentures can be fabricated with a variety of materials. The flexite material you are asking about is used in certain situations. It has no metal. It has clasps made of the same pink material as the denture base. The teeth are the same as other dentures. It is light and esthetic... But it has its problems. It can be adjusted by cutting away, but it cannot be repaired easily by adding acrylic. The clasps cannot be tightened. Many patients love them, but they need to be replaced rather that relined (refitted) to your mouth after a few years if your gums shrink away. Also, since the material flexes under your biting forces, it can put strain on your remaining teeth in ways a metal and acrylic denture would not. A partial denture with a cast chromium cobalt frame and processed acrylic can be made to fit well, and adjusted very easily. Although the clasps are not esthetic, they distrubute the biting forces in sucha way that your teeth are not stressed as much. This type of partial can be relined, and repaired more easily. So, to tell you which one would be better for you is hard, since i don't know which teeth are missing. I hope this info helps you make your decision.
Answered on Oct 3, 2016
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Dr. Neil McLeod
49 years experience Prosthodontics
Partial : Partial dentures have traditionally been made from materials that were ridged the intention being that their function is controlled about specific axes of rotation and undue pressure is not placed on tissues or teeth that might be detrimental to either. These ridged partials can be made of acrylic with wrought or cast clasps, or more ideally when the circumstances permit out of metal usually chromium cobalt (vitalium) with "gumwork" and teeth of acrylic. Recently we have introduced other more flexible materials that still serve, but can not be cracked when dropped, and out of which the clasps which were former of metal can now be fashioned out of a band of material that resembles gum tissue and is much more esthetically pleasing. These nylon materials are much more difficult to adjust and polish than acrylic and we are waiting to see if the long term effect is that the tissue is irritated be the inevitable accumulation of plaque under the denture bases. I think you are probably inquiring about this distinction between types of partials. But just in case you are aware of precision attachment partials. These for a long time were the mainstay of a prosthodontic practice allowing us to provide out patients with partial denture which had concealed attachment mechanisms made of tiny springs and clips. These attachments were called stress directors and they imbued the partial denture with flexibility in that they could rotate around a controlled center and divide the stress load in different directions. So the distinction could be made between a ridged clasp retained partial and a precision attachment partial as being one of flexibility dr neil mcleod dds dentistry that lasts -quality that counts.
Answered on Oct 4, 2016
Dr. Alan Zweig
45 years experience Dentistry
With : With much respect for the previous answer which i think laid out some important differences, i don't think flexible partials are widely recognized in prosthodontic circles as valid appliances for replacing teeth. Rigid appliances treat your mouth better and are a better long term solution.
Answered on Oct 4, 2016
Dr. Steven Hart
45 years experience Cosmetic Dentistry
Depends on situation: Typically a rigid partial denture is comprised of a cast metal framework that supports gum colored acrylic and denture teeth .They are made by a dental laboratory from an accurate mould provided by the dentist. Flexible partial dentures are often a little bulkier (cover more gum and palate), patients like the gum clasps which are less visible than metal clasps of rigid partials.
Answered on Jul 9, 2013
Dr. Robert Tupac
Specializes in Prosthodontics
One is temporary: A flexible partial denture is not considered a permanent device, just a temporary one for replacing missing teeth... A partial with a rigid metal framework is a permanent partial.
Answered on Jul 15, 2013

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