Taking Care of Your New Removable Partial Denture

Patients always look forward to the day when they will receive their new partial denture. They are happy about the prospects that former dental problems will soon be over. When, the day arrives that the new partial is inserted, they become immediately aware that a new array of dental experiences are beginning. To receive the maximum possible service and satisfaction from a new partial denture, there should be an understanding of certain facts whether the patient has previously worn a partial denture or not. With time and perseverance, a partial denture should restore appearance, speech, and the ability to chew. Many misconceptions and erroneous ideas exist concerning the use and care of a removable partial denture.


The art and science of prosthetic dentistry has advanced rapidly during recent years and new techniques and materials have greatly improved our ability to replace missing tissues with functional and natural looking artificial appliances or prostheses. However, it must be remembered that no prosthesis or artificial substitute, will function as efficiently as the original living tissues. The chewing efficiency of a removable partial denture is not nearly as efficient as the chewing efficiency of natural teeth.

The patient's mental attitude and adaptability are of utmost importance in learning to use new partial dentures. Patience and perseverance are requisites to becoming comfortable. The physical skills of using your partial denture must be learned; the length of time required varies and depends on many factors such as age, general health, muscle tone, tissue condition, coordination and mental attitude. Since no two patients are alike, all patients cannot expect the same degree of success in using partial dentures. However, it should be remembered that millions of other people have learned this skill and odds are likely that you will too.

Most partial denture wearers consider themselves experts on the subject and are eager to give you advice based on their experiences. Such advice while well-intentioned can be inaccurate and harmful to you. Seek the advice of our office staff for any questions you might have.

The First Few Days

The first day after receiving your new partial denture, should be a time to get accustomed to having your partial denture in. It is best to keep it in for short periods of time and gradually increase the time that it is in place. Generally placing it in and leaving it in place all day on the first day does not work out well for most patients. You will need some time to adapt and get comfortable with your new prosthesis. Chewing should be limited to soft foods only and gradually moving to more solid foods. Movement of the partial denture during function can cause minor sore spots and ulcerations to develop during the first 24 hours never adjust your partial denture on your own.. It is best to have the tissues evaluated within 48 hours after delivering the partial denture to make adjustments.. If the area is sore, the partial can be left out; however, put the partial denture in at least 2 hours before your scheduled appointment for the evaluation.

Many patients experience an initial abundance of saliva which is stimulated by the presence of the partial denture. Soon the salivary glands will adjust to the presence of your partial denture and resume their normal production.

Patients sometimes will experience a gagging sensation when they first begin to wear a partial denture. Gagging is a reaction that oftentimes disappears the longer the partial denture is worn. Intra-oral landmarks determine the optimal length of the partial denture and the seal or suction can be compromised if the partial denture is shortened too much too quickly.

Frequently patients have the sensation that the tongue is confined and interferes with the stability of the lower partial denture. This is particularly true if the back teeth have been missing for a long period of time as the tongue muscle can become wider and flattened filling the space of the missing teeth. Tongue biting can also occur. Over time, the tongue almost always will adapt to the new prosthesis..

Speech patterns change when wearing a partial denture certain sounds and words may be challenging particularly if the partial denture contacts your palate. Patience and practice are required to master the change in your speech function.

Mastication (chewing)

Eating with a partial denture is quite different from eating with natural teeth. Natural teeth are independently embedded in stable bone and have sensory nerves capable of sensing pain, pressure, and temperature. A partial denture is not fixed, but is one rigid unit resting on moveable soft tissue.

If a partial denture is to remain stable during chewing, the forces of chewing must be distributed uniformly over the biting surfaces. Although some patients are proud of the fact that they can take bites out of apples and corn on the cob, it must be remembered that partial dentures were never intended for biting things off with the front teeth. A partial denture is like a canoe if you stand up in the front of the canoe, it will tend to upset the back.

Chewing with the partial denture should be simultaneously on both left and right sides. At first, two sided chewing may seem difficult because most people tend to chew on one side only with natural teeth. Getting into the habit of cutting your food into small portions is helpful.

Certain foods are to be avoided initially with your new partial denture. Tough fibrous meets and hard rolls can be difficult to chew initially. Sticky substances such as chewing gum and caramels will stick to the partial denture teeth and oftentimes unseat the partial denture.

Mouth and Partial Denture Care

Partial dentures should remain out of the mouth for an eight hour period during each twenty four hours. The rest period is essential for the long-term health of the partial denture supporting tissues. The gums stay healthier and the jaw bones shrink less with a daily period of rest. It is best to keep the partial denture out at night.

Partial denture teeth are made out of acrylic and tend to collect more food debris than natural teeth. Additionally, plaque and tartar forms on partial dentures just as on natural teeth. The partial denture should be brushed with a liquid soft soap and water. Toothpaste should not be used as the abrasives in some toothpaste may over time wear away the acrylic or fiber partial denture base and teeth. Brushing the partial denture over a sink partially filled with water will prevent the fracture of the partial should you drop it in an empty sink. When not wearing the partial denture, store it in clean water to keep it from drying out. Do not use any over the counter cleaners as these can damage the acrylic or fiber. Denture adhesives like Fixodent can sometimes be beneficial to some patients. They provide a mild adhesive between the prosthesis and the tissue. When using, you want to use the minimal amount that gives you stability.

Future Partial Denture Service

When a tooth is extracted, the bone that previously supported the tooth immediately begins to shrink away and is greatest during the first year after the tooth is removed, but continues throughout life. The partial denture will oftentimes feel less stable after a period of time from the changes in the underlying tissues. A Reline is a procedure to regain stability by adding material to the underside of the prosthesis to make up for this change.

It is important to continue to have regular examinations at least annually to not only check this prosthesis, but also to evaluate your complete oral health status ie oral cancer screen, and evaluation of remaining teeth.

Since your new prosthesis is made of acrylic or fiber, fractures can occur. Always avoid super glue and do-it-yourself repairs. These products can make a simple laboratory repair more difficult as the interface of the fracture can be altered by the use of these products.

It has been a pleasure working with you on your new prosthesis and it should provide you with many years of service. Please feel to call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr. Rhee and Staff