Understanding the Classification of Kennedy: A Comprehensive Overview

The Kennedy classification is a method used to classify partial edentulous. It is the condition of missing some teeth of humans in a dental arch but not all of them. It was named Kennedy due to the name of the creator, Dr. Edward Kennedy, in the middle of the 20th century.

A removable partial denture is a prosthetic for filling up some gaps in the mandible or maxilla. It is an essential tool in dentistry that facilitates professional communication. It directs the development of treatment programs for patients with partial tooth loss.

Kennedy’s classification for partially edentulous arches is now the most straightforward and popular one. The classification is under how the edentulous arch interacts with the neighboring abutment teeth.

What is the Main Classification of Kennedy?

Classification of Kennedy is as follows:

Class I

It is posterior to regular teeth, with bilaterally situated edentulous gaps. In a Kennedy Class I situation, there are edentulous areas posterior to the remaining natural teeth on both sides of the arch. When designing a prosthesis, it is essential to consider elements that will maintain the denture in place and effectively carry out its intended purpose.


The partial denture is in the following manner:

  1. Class I dentures often have the support of tissue and teeth. Both the abutment teeth and the tissue provide retention for them.
  2. Each abutment, which is always the final tooth close to the edentulous gap, is fitted with two retentive clasps. The undercut placement determines the sort of clasp to use. Visit this website to learn more about the fasteners used in RPD design.
  3. Teeth chosen for rests are often positioned near the edentulous space and should offer the prosthesis the maximum support.
  4. These join the partial denture’s other parts together. Typically, these are the lingual bar or plate for the mandible and the anterior, posterior palatal strap or entire palate for the maxilla.

Class II

A single edentulous space that is posterior to the regular teeth is still present. It is comparable to class I but only exists on one side of the arch.

Pattern To Design

  1. The tissue and teeth supporting them through direct retention.. They receive support from the abutment teeth as well as from the tissue.
  2. Three retentive clasps are for fasteners—two on the opposing dentulous side and one on the abutment teeth on the edentulous side.
  3. Teeth chosen for rests are often positioned near the edentulous space and should offer the prosthesis maximum support.
  4. These join all of the denture’s parts together. They often consist of a horseshoe, lingual bar, or lingual plate in the mandible and an anteroposterior palatal strap in the maxilla.

Class III

A single edentulous area is intact, with teeth both ahead of and behind it. The edentulous area in a Kennedy Class III situation is on one side, yet teeth are present anteriorly and posteriorly to the edentulous space.


  • Abutment teeth on either side of the edentulous area can maintain a tooth.
  • To provide the denture with the most stability and to prevent it from falling out, four clasps are in a quadrilateral pattern.
  • Teeth chosen for rests are often positioned near the edentulous space and should offer the prosthesis maximum support.
  • Major connectors typically use lingual bars for the mandible and palatal straps or bars for the maxilla.

Class IV

It is an anterior edentulous space with a single bilaterally positioned (crossing the midline) edentulous tooth. In a Kennedy Class IV situation, the anterior region would be missing teeth, with the missing teeth grouped on both sides of the midline.


Compared to other classes, Kennedy Class IV has a different design configuration. To make them appear as natural as possible, they need to take aesthetic attention. The area with the most negligible visibility is where clasps and other retentive elements are, and the principal connector should be rigid with extensive palatal coverage in the maxillary arch.

8 Quick Rules of The Kennedy Classification

Each patient has a unique set of missing teeth in terms of type and quantity. As a result, it is challenging to classify every partially edentulous condition into four basic groupings. To guide the use of Kennedy’s approach, Applegate offered eight rules.

Rule 1

The classification should come after any tooth extractions that might change the original classification, not before.                     

Rule 2

A third molar is absent and isn’t taken into account when classifying teeth. Third, absent molars cannot be replaced while designing dentures. 

Rule 3

A third molar is for an abutment when classifying teeth if it is present. The third molars are taken into account in the classification if they are present and have the potential to serve as abutments.                                    

Rule 4

A missing second molar that is not to be replaced is not taken into account when classifying teeth (for example, if the opposing second molar is also gone and not to be replaced). Second, absent molars are not replaced or taken into account when classifying people.                                       

Rule 5

The classification is always according to the most posterior edentulous area (or areas). To Classify Kennedy Class II, an edentulous area should be classified as Kennedy Class I.  To Classify Kennedy Class III, an edentulous area should be classified as Kennedy Class II. To Classify Kennedy Class IV, an edentulous area should be assigned to Kennedy Class III.

Rule 6

Modifications are for Edentulous areas other than those that determine the categorization and by their number. Missing teeth are referred to as modifications and determined by the number of such spaces (not the number of missing teeth) after classification of Kennedy Class I, II, III, or IV.

Rule 7

Only the number of extra edentulous areas; the amount of the change is not. The number of the edentulous regions, not the number of missing teeth, is counted.

Rule 8

Class IV arches cannot contain alteration zones. The classification is by the proximity of the other edentulous areas to this edentulous space.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Kennedy categorization?


1. The classification is straightforward and widely accepted.

2. They make it simpler to describe and identify the state of the oral cavity where to replace lost teeth.

3. They provide visibility of the kind of edentulous arches without having to perform a clinical examination.

4. The classification is based on the relationship between the edentulous gaps and the abutment teeth, making establishing the type of support simple.

5. It is possible to determine the quantity and location of edentulous spaces.

6. The classification provides each class’s design. For each category, guidelines and guiding principles are available.


1. They do not specify how many teeth are missing in each edentulous location.

2. The classification does not consider evaluating the state of the complex and soft tissues.

3. They don’t show the location of each tooth individually.

4. They do not allow for occlusion testing.

Final Remarks

The Kennedy classification system is a crucial tool in dentistry since it offers a systematic way to classify and comprehend partial edentulism. The value of this system resides not only in its therapeutic uses but also in its function as a global common language for dentistry professionals.


What is partial edentulism?

Partial edentulism refers to the condition in which a patient is missing some of their teeth in a dental arch.

Why is the Kennedy Classification system important in dentistry?

It helps dental professionals communicate, plan, and design treatment options for patients with partial edentulism.

Can a patient’s classification change over time?

Yes, a patient’s classification may change over time.

Can the Kennedy Classification system be used for complete edentulism (total tooth loss)?

No, the Kennedy Classification system is designed explicitly for partial edentulism.