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Dentistry/Partial vs Full Dentures


QUESTION: I am in my early thirties and have had dental problems since I was a child. At this point, my dentist and I have agreed that a significant number of the remaining teeth need to be removed.

My dentist feels that the remaining teeth that are in okay shape should be crowned and I should be fitted with partial dentures on top and bottom (4 to 6 teeth would remain all together). He says that leaving some teeth in will alleviate a lot of denture problems and keep problems from starting when I'm older by maintaining more jaw bone.

I've been through so much already that part of me just wants to have him take them all and put full dentures in, but he thinks that it's really important to save a few of them. Is it worth it?

ANSWER: Dear Jane,

Without any more information,  I can't offer you any professional advice.

Having said that, the truth is in your answer to your own question:  Is it worth it?   Only you can decide if it's worth it to you.

Usually I will advise my patients with teeth to keep the ones they can to help retain replacements.  But if you decide to have them all removed,  plan on implants down the road.   Dentures are unstable compared to natural teeth that are rooted in your jawbones. Chewing with them can be difficult. Speaking with them can be difficult.  So once lost, they can only be replaced by implants.  These are titanium roots surgically anchored to your jawbones.  

Now you know enough to help you decide.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Is there any other information I could give you that would help?

Basically I just want to know if having teeth left to support the partial instead of a full denture will make a big difference down the road...

And for the time being, will a partial instead of a full denture make it easier to eat/speak, etc

Your answers are YES and YES.

Yes:  You could provide me with your xrays and with you for examination.  But that's just not practical.  And I can't make a diagnosis or prognosis without both.  I can only speak in general statistical terms.

Yes:  Leaving some teeth to hold partials will provide you with replacement teeth that are much more stable in your mouth.  This will allow you both to chew, speak, cough, sneeze and smile better than you would without teeth to hold in partials.  Any activity that uses your teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue will often act to dislodge a denture, but will not dislodge a partial.  If the choices you give me are ONLY between partial and denture, the partial is your best choice for today.  Of course, if you choose to keep some teeth and wear a partial, this means that you will be left with some of your natural teeth that will need attention, and could become decayed or loosen over time.  

Again, you choose.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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