Partial dentures

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Having missing teeth might be more common than you might think. According to research by age 50 most Americans have lost an average of 12 teeth¹. People who have severe tooth loss, which is defined as having 8 or fewer teeth², may get full dentures to replace their missing teeth. But if you’re only missing a few teeth in either the upper or lower jaw you partial dentures may work for you. Partial dentures are designed to work with existing natural teeth while replacing the functionality that you lost when you lost some of your teeth³.

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Partial dentures consist of artificial teeth which are connected by a bridge to fit into the spaces where your natural teeth used to be. If you don’t replace missing teeth your bite may be misaligned and over time your teeth can shift in your mouth which can misalign your jaw and cause pain⁴. In order to be a candidate for partial dentures typically you need to have enough remaining natural teeth for the dentist to create a bridge to hold the partial in place. If you don’t have enough natural teeth left to hold the bridge then you will typically need full dentures.

How much does partial dentures cost with or without dental insurance?

What keeps most people from replacing missing teeth is the partial dentures cost. The partial dentures cost can be expensive because they require more than one visit to the dentist⁵.

The cost of a partial denture without dental insurance can be high. The cost of removable partial dentures depends on several different factors like where you live, what material is being used, and how many teeth you need to have replaced. A removable partial denture costs between $1,000 to $1,500. If you want to get a fixed partial denture the cost of that can range anywhere between $1,300 to $3,000 if you don’t have dental insurance⁶.

Some of the dental insurance plans offered by Guardian Direct® do cover a portion of the cost of partial dentures so that you don’t have to pay the full cost yourself. In most states, after a 12 month waiting period Guardian Direct® top-tier and mid-tier dental insurance plans pay up to 50% of the cost of partial dentures up to the maximum allowed benefit cost.

Dentures price

The cost of partial dentures is typically lower than the cost of dentures. According to a 2017 survey, full set of dentures price can be around $4000 in average once you add in the cost of the actual denture and the cost of the associated dentist visits and services like X-rays, exams, and preparing the mouth for the denture⁷.

When it comes to partial dentures the cost of the denture depends a great deal on what type of partial denture will fit your needs, among other factors. There are three different types of partial dentures that are available⁸. Your dentist will be able to tell you which of these types of partial denture will be the best one for you:

Metal Partial Denture

A metal partial denture is the most commonly used type of partial denture. The metal denture has an acrylic base that typically can be colored to match your gums and false teeth made from porcelain or metal. The denture itself is held in the mouth by clasps. Metal clasps are the most inexpensive types of clasps used for a metal partial denture but there are clear and flesh toned clips available to make the denture less noticeable. The benefits of a metal partial denture are that the denture is lightweight but typically may last a long time and only needs regular brushing and oral care to stay in good shape. Without insurance this type of partial denture can cost anywhere from $650 to around $2500⁹.

Flexible Partial Denture

Flexible partial dentures are typically a good short term solution if you need a denture to fix the appearance of your teeth right now. They are made from a soft and flexible plastic that is designed to mimic the color of your gums and teeth. Plastic partial dentures typically look very natural so they may be a smart choice if you’re missing front teeth or teeth that are highly visible. However, the soft plastic that gives them such a natural look typically isn’t very sturdy or durable. There is a high risk of cracking or breaking with normal use and these dentures can’t be fixed. If they crack or break you will need to pay for an entire new partial denture. The cost of a flexible partial denture ranges from $900-$2000¹⁰.

Acrylic Partial Denture (Flipper)

A flipper is another type of affordable temporary removable partial denture. It’s a partial denture that’s made from acrylic and held in place with metal clasps. Flippers typically are not comfortable and they are not very durable, which is why they are the least expensive type of removable partial denture. Typically, flippers are used when you need to have some kind of denture and are waiting for a permanent partial denture to be completed. Flippers are the more affordable type of removable partial denture with a cost ranging from $300-$500¹¹.

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Lower & upper partial dentures

Typically, there is not a huge difference in cost in getting an upper partial denture or a lower partial denture. The differences in cost really come into play depending on how many teeth need to be replaced whether or not you’re getting a traditional partial denture with major and minor connectors or a flexible partial denture that simple fits over your natural teeth, among other factors. If you’re getting a traditional partial denture you may need:

  • A major connector which is the framework that the partial is built on. It helps hold the partial rigid and is kept in place with clasps. The size of the connector typically depends on the shape of your mouth and the number of teeth you are missing.

  • A minor connector to help connect the replacement teeth to the major connector.

  • A rest to distribute the force of the tooth to keep the denture in place.

  • Clasps which help hold the denture in place. They can be made of metal or clear or flesh colored plastic.

  • A denture base which goes over the ridge in the mouth caused by the gap in the teeth.

  • A denture teeth made from porcelain or acrylic resin with are designed to replace your missing teeth.

  • Denture teeth. These acrylic or porcelain teeth serve to replace the teeth that are missing in the mouth

It’s the cost of all of these components which will typically affect the cost of the upper and lower partial dentures¹².

Flexible dentures vs traditional dentures

When discussing with your dentist whether a traditional partial denture or a flexible partial denture is the best choice for your needs you should consider thinking about these things:

Traditional Dentures

If you want a long term partial denture so that you don’t have to replace the denture often then a traditional denture may be the right choice for you. But, keep in mind that traditional partial dentures can be uncomfortable. They can take a long time to get used to and they do require more maintenance and care than flexible or removable partial dentures. Some traditional partial dentures also don’t look as natural as a flexible removable denture.

Flexible Dentures

Aesthetically flexible dentures typically look the closest to natural gums and teeth. The acrylic fits softly over gums and teeth so typically there’s no need for uncomfortable clasps or clips. But, flexible dentures are much more likely to attract bacteria and require a lot of meticulous cleaning and upkeep. They typically don’t last very long and may need to be replaced frequently. They are not as durable so if you need to replace teeth that you need for biting and chewing they may not be the right choice. But flexible partial dentures are typically a good choice for replacing front teeth or teeth that are highly visible because of their natural appearance¹³.

Temporary dentures & related Insights

When it comes to choosing a partial denture typically the choice really comes down to function or aesthetics. If you want to make sure that your smile still looks great even though you have missing teeth then a flexible removable partial denture may be the right choice for you. If you’re more worried about function and durability than a traditional partial denture is going to be the practical choice. Guardian Direct has created a library full of valuable insights, tips, and dental insurance information to help you make informed decisions for your dental health. To learn more about dentures and crowns you can read about dental insurance for dentures and crowns or find out more about the cost of dental crowns and dentures.


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