Purpose: The purpose of this report was to evaluate indications for the use of removable partial dentures based on a comprehensive literature review.
Materials and methods: Using a model similar to a Delphi process, the literature relating to the indications and contraindications for the prescription of removable partial dentures was discussed by seven experienced educators in a 2.5-day workshop.
Results: Evidence for indications and contraindications for the prescription of removable partial dentures is not clearly stated in the literature; however, some basic principles are defined. There appears to be a trend in favor of the use of the shortened dental arch concept or implant-supported restorations instead of conventional removable partial dentures, given the evidence that the long-term use of removable dentures is associated with increased risks of caries and periodontitis and low patient acceptance. The presence of sound abutment teeth appears to encourage the use of removable partial dentures, as the fixed partial denture alternative requires sacrifice of healthy hard tissues. When economic factors influence the decision-making process, removable partial dentures are often chosen.
Conclusion: While evidence-based indications and contraindications for prescribing removable partial dentures are still lacking, major underlying principles for clinical decision making are identified.