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What Are Removable Prosthodontics?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated May 17, 2024
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Removable prosthodontics include complete and partial dentures and other artificial substitutes for missing teeth that can be removed from the mouth without professional medical intervention. Partially edentulous or toothless patients may want removable prosthodontics for aesthetic, financial, or functional reasons. The benefit is that the patient can insert and remove these prosthodontics at will without the help of his or her dentist. In contrast, fixed prosthodontics like a bridge are meant to be permanently established in the mouth and should be removed only by a dentist. Dental students can specialize in this branch of prosthodontics.

There are many reasons why people lose some or all of their teeth. Accidents and injuries can result in teeth being permanently knocked from the mouth. Disease, age, and poor diet and dental hygiene can also result in tooth loss. Although prevention of further tooth loss is always a priority for dental professionals, partially edentulous patients can consider removable prosthodontics to replace the missing teeth. These false teeth can be inserted into the mouth at will, whenever the patient needs to chew something or wants to mask the fact that he or she is missing teeth.

Removable prosthodontics are available in a variety of styles depending on the patient’s needs and budget. The base is made with pink material that mimics gum tissue, while the teeth are usually plastic or porcelain. Metal or plastic clasps secure the removable prosthodontics to the surrounding teeth. The artificial teeth can be stained to match the coloring of the rest of the teeth. There are four classifications of removable prosthodontics that are determined by the location of the missing teeth.

When teeth are missing from different sections of the mouth, this type of prosthodontics may have to be joined by a rigid major connector. This is usually made from a light alloy or acrylic material. Although the acrylic material is less expensive, it is not as stable when chewing and can damage soft tissues over time.

Designing these prosthodontics can require several appointments during approximately a month. In general, a dentist will measure a patient’s jaw and make a few impressions of it. A model made of wax or plastic is often made first before the final denture is cast to give the patient a chance to sample the fit and feel. After the final denture is cast, some adjustments can still be made if necessary. Until the oral muscles adjust to the removable prosthodontics, they may feel a little loose, and it can be initially uncomfortable to eat with them.

This type of prosthodontics often requires particular attention to oral hygiene and diet. These false teeth can be brushed with denture cream or hand soap daily using a brush specifically designed for this task. When not being worn, removable prosthodontics should be kept in water or a soaking solution. An alternative to removable dentures of this type are dental implants, although they are often more expensive.

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