How to Troubleshoot Problems Inserting Partial Upper Dental Plate

Updated February 21, 2017

If you only need to replace a few teeth rather than an entire set, the dentist will give you a partial denture. There are two types of partial dentures: clasp and precision attachment. Clasps are C-shaped, I-shaped or Y-shaped, and hook onto adjacent teeth in order to hold the partial denture in place. A precision attachment requires the drilling of a keyhole in a tooth adjacent to the denture setting. Your dentist will perform a root canal on this tooth to kill the nerve and reduce pain. The key is on the denture and snaps into the keyhole on the supporting tooth. Four common problems with inserting a partial upper denture are loose fits, tight fits, gagging and pain.

You insert the denture, but it does not stay in place. The clips that hold the teeth in place can become loose and no longer hold the denture tightly. Also, if you have keyhole dentures, the keyhole may have widened due to wear and needs to be refit. See your dentist for repairs.

You cannot fit the denture into place or it requires effort to get the denture to fit. The surrounding teeth may have shifted. When the clips that are used to hold the denture in place are too tight, they can work like braces and pull the teeth toward each other. See your dentist to have him adjust the clips. Do not attempt to do this yourself.

You gag while placing the denture in your mouth. The plate crossing the roof of your mouth extends too far back and is touching your soft palate. Even though it is an unpleasant response, it is part of your normal gag reflex. See your dentist to have him reshape the plate.

You can insert the denture, but it causes pain. The plate no longer fits and is rubbing the gums. There are several reasons for this. The plastic that composes the plate may have worn away and no longer conforms to the shape of your mouth. Also, the underlying bone may have begun to erode. Both cases can be temporarily fixed using over-the-counter denture reliners and adhesives. However, you must see a dentist in order to get a permanent fix.


Do not attempt to fix your dentures by yourself. In all cases make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Any adjustments you make yourself may void your insurance coverage or break the denture.

Things You'll Need

  • Denture
  • Dentist
  • Denture adhesive or reliner
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About the Author

Transplanted Yankee Erin Watson-Price lives in Birmingham, Ala., and has been writing freelance articles since 1997. She worked as writer/co-editor for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue's newsletter, "The Long and the Short of It." In 2007 she obtained a certification as a copy editor. Watson-Price holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.