Dentures can help to restore both appearance and function to your smile, if you have missing teeth. But what exactly are dentures made out of? Here's a little about dentures from our Surrey dentist at Hanin Dental.
A Brief History of Dentures
It is believed that dentures have been used by humans since the very earliest times in recorded history. Etruscans in northern Italy were known to have created dentures out of human and animal teeth around 700BC!
In the 1700 ivory dentures became popular, commonly made from natural materials including walrus, elephant, or hippopotamus.
It was rumoured that George Washington wore dentures made of wood, however he actually wore some of the highest quality dentures of his time! Washington's denture plate was carved from hippopotamus ivory with a collection of human, horse, donkey teeth imbedded in the plate.
In the 1800's Claudius Ash mounted porcelain teeth onto 18-karat gold plates, with gold springs and swivels. Later Ash created denture plates out of Vulcanite, (a form of hardened rubber) with porcelain teeth set into the plates.
Fortunately, things have come a long way since those days. Today's dentures look natural and can function almost as well as natural teeth.
These days the teeth of dentures are typically created out of resin or porcelain.
Porcelain is a glass-like ceramic material that is used in some dentures.
When it comes to creating teeth for dentures, porcelain has a number of advantages:
- Porcelain has the same translucent appearance as natural tooth enamel
- The colour of porcelain teeth can be matched closely to the patients natural teeth
- They tend to be easier to get used to since they feel much like natural teeth
- Porcelain teeth are considerably harder and longer lasting that resin teeth
However, porcelain teeth are breakable if dropped on a hard floor, and because they are very hard they can wear down natural teeth if they bite against them. That's why porcelain is better when used in full dentures rather than in partial dentures.
Acrylic Resin Teeth
Acrylic resin has recently become the go-to material for denture teeth.
Acrylic tends to be easier to work with than porcelain, and is somewhat easier to adjust in order to create natural looking dentures.
Dentures made with acrylic teeth are much lighter to wear than porcelain, and are significantly less expensive.
That said, acrylic resin teeth wear faster than porcelain teeth. So, dentures made with acrylic resin teeth may need to be replaced every five to eight years.
It goes without saying that the teeth of dentures require some sort of framework to hold them in place. That's where the denture plate comes in.
Denture plates can be made from rigid acrylic resin, a flexible (nylon) polymer, or even chrome cobalt metal.
In order to make a well fitting denture, the dentist takes an impression of the patient's gums in order to create a mold. The mold is then used to create a temporary wax model with teeth are added.
The patient tries out the wax model in order to make sure the denture will fit snugly and be the correct size and colour.
Acrylic resin plates are created with an artificial gumline tinted to resemble the appearance of the patient's natural gums.
Metal plates are also available. These plates tend to fit better and be more durable. Metal plates are most suitable for partial plates that are hidden behind the remaining natural teeth.
How Long Do Dentures Last
Your ongoing oral hygiene routine will play a key role in how long your dentures last. It is absolutely essential to clean your dentures daily.
It's also important to take good care of your natural gums. You need to keep your gums healthy in order to support your dentures.
So as you can see, the answer to what dentures are made of isn't entirely straight forward.
That said, if you're considering getting dentures to replace your missing teeth, it's a good idea to do a little research into the pros and cons of different materials and choose dentures that are right for you.