If you've lost some of your teeth, one of the replacement options you have is a removable appliance. Ones that only replace some teeth are called partial dentures or partials. To hold it in place (or retain) it, removable partials need to hook onto your remaining teeth in some way. For many years, metal arms that wrap around some of your teeth have the standard method to help hold your appliance in place.
Depending on how many teeth you’ve lost and where they were located in your mouth, the metal may be visible when you smile or talk. So what can you do if you don’t like the metal? Let’s look at several options:
Tooth colored arms: It is easier to plan these into a new partial, but sometimes the metal ones on your current partial can be replaced. The color of these arms means they are not as noticeable but they may still be seen under certain conditions. If you’ve ever seen someone with tooth colored braces, you have an idea of what these arms look like. In exchange for the cosmetics, you trade off the ability for your dentist to adjust the tightness of your partial in his or her dental office. Another limitation is that the tooth colored arms are not as flexible as some of the other materials. The shape of your tooth may prevent using this material.
Flexible base partials use a different pink base material than traditional partials. This newer base material has enough flexibility to be able to wrap around a tooth and create an arm whose color is approximately the color of your gums. As with the tooth colored arms, these may be visible under certain circumstances, and you give up the ability for your dentist to tighten or loosen the arm in the dental office. A unique limitation to this choice is that if the base material breaks or chips or if you lose another tooth, it may be very difficult to change or repair your appliance.
Of course, we’d love to have a material with the strength and flexibility of metal but in a tooth color. For a time, it was hoped that a paint on product could be used to cover the metal arms. But the product tended to chip and flake off when adjustments to the arm were needed.
*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
If you would like to discuss replacing your partial or in seeing if your current appliance could be changed, I invite you to call my office at 440-960-1940 to schedule a visit. You can also contact us through my website at www.drjrobb.com or interact with me on facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb