You are likely weighing the pros and cons of implants versus a partial if you have several missing teeth. Partials are often the least expensive in terms of tooth replacement options; however, they are the most lacking when it comes to function and aesthetics.
Partials generally attach to the remaining teeth with clasps and are fully removable. This makes them susceptible to rocking and other undesired movement. Due to this attachment to the remaining teeth, they tend to accumulate a lot of bacteria which can lead to an increased incidence of gum disease and tooth decay. Teeth may become loose over time if the partial does not fit properly or if it’s unstable during function. Implants, on the other hand, are fixed, cannot be removed and do not make adjacent teeth susceptible to damage..
Many partial wearers complain of discomfort due to friction or poor fit. Lower partials are particularly difficult to fit due to bone resorption over time. Furthermore, partials tend to be unstable where several teeth are missing on one side with no end tooth on which to attach for support. A good solution is to place one or two strategic dental implants, which fuse to the bone providing a rigid anchor to improve stability to the partial. This does not dramatically increase costs, yet significantly improves treatment outcomes.
Partials do not look as natural as implants nor do they function as well. Implants function much like natural teeth and may be brushed and cared for just the same.
A well-designed, properly fitting partial fabricated of high quality material can provide a very viable aesthetic and functional alternative to more expensive implant options, especially when the patient practices impeccable home care.