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Removable partial denture
A removable partial denture (RPD) is for a partially edentulous dental patient who desires to have replacement teeth for functional or esthetic reasons, and who cannot have a fixed partial denture (crown and bridge) for any number of reasons, such as a lack of required teeth to serve as support for a bridge (i.e. distal abutments) or due to financial limitations.

The reason why this type of prosthesis is referred to as a removable partial denture is because patients can remove and reinsert them when required without professional help. Conversely, a "fixed" prosthesis can and should be removed only by a dental professional.

Components of an RPD

Rather than lying entirely on the edentulous ridge like complete dentures, removable partial dentures possess clasps of metal or plastic that "clip" onto the remaining teeth, making the RPD more stable and retentive.

The parts of an RPD can be listed as follows (and are exemplified by the picture above):

  • Major Connector (the thick metal "U" in the RPD above is a lingual bar, a type of major connector)
  • Minor Connector (the small struts protruding from the lingual bar at roughly 90 degree angles)
  • Direct Retainer (examples are in the upper left of upper photo and lower right of lower photo; the clasp arms act to hug the teeth and keep the RPD in place. The metal clasp and rest immediately adjacent to the fake teeth is also a direct retainer.)
  • Indirect Retainer (example is the little metal piece coming off the "U" at a 90 degree angle near the top of the upper photo, which is a cingulum rest on a canine.)
    • Physical Retainer (this is a mesh of metal that allows the pink base material to connect to the metal framework of the RPD. Some consider physical retainers their own component (making a total of seven), while others consider them within the indirect retainer catergory (thus making a total of six components.)
  • Base (the pink material, mimicking gingiva)
  • Teeth (plastic or porcelain formed in the shape of teeth)

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