When designing partial dentures, one of the most commonly used classification systems is the Kennedy Classification. This was developed by Dr Edward Kennedy in the 1920s. The classification is ranked based on the most commonly found partially dentate situations.

Kennedy Class I

Kennedy Class I describes a patient who has BILATERAL free-end saddles, i.e. they have edentulous posterior areas bilaterally. This is the most common classification. There are no further posterior teeth to the edentulous area. A free-end saddle is where the saddle is not resting on teeth on both sides (i.e. is lacking an abutment tooth).

Kennedy Class 1
Kennedy Class 1

Kennedy Class II

This describes a patient who has a UNILATERAL free-end saddle, i.e. they have a one-sided, posterior edentulous area. They have no further teeth behind the edentulous area. As the image below shows, it is like a Class I but just covering one side of the arch.

Kennedy Class 2
Kennedy Class 2

Kennedy Class III

This describes a patient who has a UNILATERAL BOUNDED POSTERIOR saddle. This means that the edentulous area has teeth located both anteriorly and posteriorly to it, as shown in the image below. As they do not possess free-end saddles, they tend to be far more secure cases when being worn.

Kennedy Class 3
Kennedy Class 3

Kennedy Class IV

This describes a patient with a SINGLE, ANTERIOR BOUNDED saddle. This is the rarest of the classifications.

Kennedy Class 4
Kennedy Class 4


This refers to multiple edentulous areas present in a case. Modifications can only apply to Kennedy Classes I, II and III. This is because a Kennedy Class IV case with modifications would fall in to one of the other classifications, as these take priorities. Examples:

This is a Kennedy Class I Mod II case as, along with having bilateral free-end saddles, there are two further edentulous areas that need replacing.
Kennedy Class 3 Modification 1
This is a Class III Mod I as there is a unilateral bounded saddle with one further edentulous area. NOTE: The extra edentulous area is anterior but Class IV cases don’t have modifications!

Kennedy Classification Summary

  • Class I – posterior, bilateral free-end saddles
  • Class II – posterior, unilateral free-end saddle
  • Class III – posterior, unilateral bounded saddle
  • Class IV – anterior bounded saddle
  • Class I, II and III can have modifications.


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References and Recommended Reading

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BDS (Hons.) MFDS RCPS (Glasg.) Cert Med Ed FHEA - Currently working as a Speciality Doctor in OMFS and as an Associate Dentist


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