Partial Dentures come in many forms, they can be ridged plastic, metal and plastic, and even flexible, but they are all designed to perform one major task, to fill the gaps created by lost teeth.
It is very important to fill the gaps with a comfortable and well designed partial denture for several reasons. If a natural tooth does not have support it will tend to drift, if it does not have an opposing tooth to bite on it will want to overerupt these two actions will lead to problems with the bite and ultimately with the loss of that tooth. The next good reason for filling the gaps is so that the person can eat and help maintain a healthy diet. But for many people the most important task for a partial denture is to make the person look good.
Dentures made of all plastic [acrylic] often function very well, sometimes they are made with small metal clips [clasps] which embrace the natural teeth aiding retention. If made well an acrylic denture can be very successful but they tend to be a little bit bulky compared to their metal counterparts.
Metal / Cobalt Chrome
Metal partial dentures are often the partial of choice, as they combine strength with the advantage of less bulk, if designed well the metal component of the denture remains hidden apart from the metal clips [clasps] necessary for retention. It is sometimes possible to make the clasps out of flexible tooth coloured plastic although they tend to be a little bit more bulky than metal ones.
A few people find they cannot tolerate conventional partial dentures and ask for flexible dentures. These are made out of a strong resilient plastic and can be the answer for some people,
However they do not last as long as a regular denture and they are much harder to keep clean and are not easy to repair successfully.
All the above dentures can be used in conjunction with implants to aid their retention.