RPD’s or removable partial dentures are plastic and metal component false teeth that are used to replace a zone or number of missing teeth by clasping or anchoring the appliance to the remaining viable teeth. RPD’s are the most inexpensive way to replace the function and appearance of multiple missing teeth where implants or fixed bridges are not feasible or not wanted. Sometimes RPD’s are used in deteriorating dentitions as a transition into Complete Dentures.

Complete Dentures are false teeth that have no remaining natural teeth onto which the appliance can clasp or anchor. Upper dentures cover all of the ridges as well as the palate for stability. If the ridges are short or if the palate is shallow the complete upper denture (CUD) becomes unstable and goopy adhesives or sticky powders may be required to help keep them in place. The complete lower denture (CLD) is horseshoe-shaped because the tongue resides in between the ridges, so it will have less of a platform for stability. When the ridges resorb and become shallow it is very difficult to keep a CLD in place because speaking and swallowing causes the tongue to deflect the denture out of place. Because the jawbone ridges continually resorb throughout life once teeth have been removed, the more years a person has been wearing dentures, the more trouble they will have holding them from dislodging out of place.

Since the advent of dental implants, it has become possible to stabilize wobbly dentures by using implants as anchors. In the lower jaw, which is commonly the most problematic arch, as few as 2 implants can transform the misery of having an unstable CLD into a situation of much greater satisfaction. Because the bone in the upper jaw is spongy and not as durable a minimum of 4 or preferably more implants are usually required. Fixed connector bars can be made where multiple implants are possible. This in turn provides even greater stability and longevity. The dentures then clip overtop and onto the implant bars but can still be detached for cleaning. Bars on implants can last for more than 20 years. The overdenture itself, however, being made of plastic (acrylic) may need to be changed every 6 to 10 years.

For pictures of Bar Overdentures, see the Treatment Examples heading in the menu bar at the top of this page.