Dentures are designed to replace missing teeth and usually consist of a gum colored plastic base that supports the denture teeth. Full dentures are used to restore an entire arch of upper or lower teeth, whereas partial dentures only replace a few missing teeth.
A full upper denture is made to cover up the roof of the mouth which is called the hard palate. This helps give it extra retention to hold it firmly in position. A lower denture is constructed in a horseshoe design, relying on the bony ridge that used to support teeth for retention. Full dentures have a plastic gum colored base that holds the denture teeth.
Partial dentures also consist of denture teeth attached to a plastic gum colored base, but are likely to have metal clasps that fit around the natural teeth. These help hold the partial denture firmly in position. Some partial dentures have a chrome cobalt metal alloy base, or will have a metal strengthener inside the plastic base. This helps to add strength to the denture while reducing weight and bulk.
Flexible Partial Dentures
There is another type of partial denture that has a flexible nylon base supporting plastic denture teeth. The nylon base is gum colored, but is slightly transparent so it blends in with the natural gum tissue extremely well. The flexible material conforms to the shape of the mouth so the denture is very comfortable to wear.
A flexible nylon partial denture is entirely metal free and does not have any metal clasps. Instead it has clasps made from the same nylon material that is used for the denture base. A flexible denture can be very good for anyone who has allergies to the acrylic used for conventional dentures. This type of denture is normally only suitable for partial dentures as it doesn’t have sufficient rigidity to support a full arch of teeth.