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J Prosthet Dent. 1992 Apr;67(4):484-7.

The cantilever fixed partial denture--a literature review.

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  • 1Department of Oral Rehabilitation, Tel Aviv University, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Israel.


The cantilever fixed partial denture (FPD) is a restoration with one or more abutments at one end and unsupported at the other end. Forces transmitted through the cantilevered pontics can cause tilting and rotational movements of the abutments. In a cross-arch unilateral cantilever FPD, the distal cantilevered unit is subjected to comparatively less force than the contralateral posterior abutment. The unilateral lack of terminal abutments causes lateral bending forces activate peripheral inhibitory feedback reactions from the periodontal and/or temporomandibular mechanoreceptors. The greatest strain in distal cantilevered FPDs is recorded mesial to the most distal retainer because most fractures occur in this location. To improve the prognosis of the FPD cantilever, the number of abutments should be increased and the number of pontics decreased. The abutment teeth need long roots and acceptable alveolar support. Prepared abutments require adequate length and parallel axial walls. An equilibrated and harmonious occlusion is necessary, as well as exemplary oral hygiene. A cantilevered FPD with adequate periodontal support can replace any tooth in the dental arch, but is especially useful as an alternative to a removable partial denture. The cantilevered FPD requires at least two abutment teeth. The only documented exception permitting a single abutment is the replacement of a maxillary lateral incisor with the canine as an abutment. An alternative to the cantilevered FPD is the osseointegrated implant. As osseointegrated implants become more popular, the need for the tooth-supported cantilevered FPD may decline, but it will remain an alternative treatment modality.

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