This kind of removable prosthesis implies the presence of a sufficient number of teeth in the patient's mouth, allowing to anchor the removable part. The number and position of these teeth may vary, but in the prosthetic design, a correct balance between added parts and pillar teeth must be reached. Sometimes, in order to offer more grip to the mobile part, the residual teeth must be covered, sometimes also connecting more than one with a bridge. In this case the partial prosthesis is called "combined".
A removable partial denture consists of various parts that have to be perfectly combined to reach the result.
Saddle or base - With this term, the most delicate part of the prosthesis is indicated, the one that goes into direct contact with the edentuolous ridge, that is. Even if recently some new materials have been introcuced, the great majority of the saddles is built of acrylic resin, a pink colored plastic material.
On top of the saddle, the teeth, also made of resin are fixed, deputated to the chewing function. More seldom, ceramic teeth are used on the saddles also.
Connector or Bar - This component of the removable prosthesis has the function to connect the right side to the left one. It can be made of acrylic resin or it can be a metal element.
This part of the partial denture is sadly always necessary to stabilze the device. Even if partial dentures covering just one side of the mouth do exist, these are quite complicated to build, so the preferred solution is to anchor the teeth on one side to the opposite one with a connector.
Clasp - It's the most used anchorage system for partial dentures on natural teeth. It practically consists in a small metal extension starting from a saddle or one of the connectors, protruding towards the outer part of the dentition, embracing the external part of the pillar tooth. When the prosthesis is inserted, the clasp should theorically excerpt a small friction, and having passed that, the denture positions itself with a click in its prefixed site, while the clasp offers the necessary retention for it not to move.
Of course, being built of flexible metal, with the rising frequency of denture wearing, they tend to loosen themselves, and the dentist must periodically tighten them. It is never advisable to attempt this maintainance with improvised tools, because of the risk of breaking the clasp itself.
Connector - As an alternative to clasps, a more esthetic solution can be used. It substantially is a male/female connector that links the mobile part precisely to a structure based on natural teeth. The only way of constructing it, is to build one of the two parts on one or more teeth: to do so, a crown or a bridge is usually necessary to mold the connector itself.