Removable partial dentures: The clinical need for innovation

J Prosthet Dent. 2017 Sep;118(3):273-280. doi: 10.1016/j.prosdent.2017.01.008. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Statement of problem: The number of partially dentate adults is increasing, and many patients will require replacement of missing teeth. Although current treatment options also include fixed partial dentures and implants, removable partial dentures (RPDs) can have advantages and are widely used in clinical practice. However, a significant need exists to advance materials and fabrication technologies because of the unwanted health consequences associated with current RPDs.

Purpose: The purpose of this review was to assess the current state of and future need for prosthetics such as RPDs for patients with partial edentulism, highlight areas of weakness, and outline possible solutions to issues that affect patient satisfaction and the use of RPDs.

Material and methods: The data on treatment for partial edentulism were reviewed and summarized with a focus on currently available and future RPD designs, materials, means of production, and impact on oral health. Data on patient satisfaction and compliance with RPD treatment were also reviewed to assess patient-centered care.

Results: Design, materials, ease of repair, patient education, and follow-up for RPD treatment all had a significant impact on treatment success. Almost 40% of patients no longer use their RPD within 5 years because of factors such as sociodemographics, pain, and esthetics. Research on RPD-based treatment for partial edentulism for both disease-oriented and patient-centered outcomes is lacking.

Conclusions: Future trials should evaluate new RPD materials and design technologies and include both long-term follow-up and health-related and patient-reported outcomes. Advances in materials and digital design/production along with patient education promise to further the application of RPDs and improve the quality of life for patients requiring RPDs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Prosthesis Design*
  • Denture, Partial, Removable*
  • Esthetics, Dental
  • Humans
  • Jaw, Edentulous, Partially / therapy*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Dental Materials