What’s the Difference Between Dentures and Partials?
A lot of dentistry is about the terminology, there are terms that we use, and then the terms that we try to make more digestible for our patients. So, with respect to dentures and partials, dentures are usually a full arch of teeth.
When we refer to dentures, we can say a “full denture”, and sometimes it’s a “complete full denture” or a “complete upper denture”, or “complete lower denture”. Complete dentures are the complete arch of teeth. So, there are no teeth present in the mouth at all, or at least in the arch of where we’re planning on placing the denture, creating the denture.
A partial denture, like the name says, is part of the teeth. It’s part of the teeth in the mouth. So, with respect to a “lower partial denture”, we may have a few teeth on the bottom, maybe half of the teeth are missing, and we’ll replace half of the teeth with a removable partial denture. Both of these devices are removable pieces.
With respect to a full denture, a “full upper denture” will have some suction to help to retain it. Partial denture will rely on clips or clasps, sometimes metal, often metal, and they will grab onto the adjacent teeth or the teeth that are remaining in some fashion so that it stays in place. If it’s removable from the patient’s perspective, it has to be removed every day for cleaning, even sometimes multiple times a day. So, both of these devices are in that removable category of replacement teeth.