What Is the Difference Between a Flexible Partial Denture and a Dental Flipper?

A dental flipper is a removable partial denture, usually made of acrylic. It is normally used as an inexpensive interim solution to missing teeth. Flexible partial dentures are made of flexible materials, such as nylon or vinyl, and can substitute for a standard denture with a rigid plate.

Dental flippers are a common solution to the need to bridge a gap in the tooth line while a restorative dentist prepares implants or a denture designed for long-term use. The disadvantages of these devices are that they do not usually provide a truly natural appearance and that they place pressure on the soft tissues of the tooth socket and gums, distorting these tissues in unpredictable ways that may interfere with the success of longer-range restorative treatments. Flippers are also prone to breakage.

Flexible partial dentures are a good choice for patients who prefer dentures to implants but have had difficulty in tolerating standard dentures made of plastic or metal. Unlike flippers, they are supported primarily by the patient's remaining teeth. Because of their flexibility and light weight, they are a promising solution for patients needing restorative dentistry due to cancer or facial trauma. Another advantage of these devices is that a well-made set of flexible partial dentures presents a natural appearance. Their primary disadvantages are that they require regular cleaning and eventually wear out, necessitating replacement. They are also more expensive than flippers, though cost varies widely.