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Partials are sometimes referred to as RPDs (removable partial dentures). They're often selected as an inexpensive option over a bridge or dental implant for replacing lost teeth. Most partials work in a similar way: Artificial teeth are placed on a molded base to which metal clasps are added. The clasps look like small hooks and fit around the existing teeth situated on either side of the missing tooth or teeth. The base, typically an acrylic tinted pink to look like flesh, rests on the gums (and the roof of the mouth for upper teeth). The clasps and base stabilize the prosthetic, helping to hold the teeth in place.


A partial can be a practical option, particularly when there's the potential for additional future tooth loss. New teeth can be added to a partial pretty easily and inexpensively. Although many of the partials currently in use are made from rigid acrylic with metal clasps, the use of nylon is becoming more widespread. Nylon is a very strong material that can be used to form the framework as well as the clasps, eliminating the need for metal. Another popular new partial material is vinyl. It can be employed to create a flexible base that's more comfortable to wear than rigid acrylic and easier to modify if adjustments become necessary.