If you have missing teeth, dentures are a great way to restore appearance and function to your smile. But what exactly are dentures made out of? Our Surrey dentist explains...
A Brief History of Dentures
Dentures have been used by humans since the very earliest times in recorded history. Peoples in northern Italy were known to have dentures created from human and animal teeth around 700BC!
Ivory dentures were popular in the 1700s, frequently made from natural materials including elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus.
George Washington was rumoured to have worn dentures made of wood, but that's a myth. In fact, George Washington wore some of the highest quality dentures of his time! We now believe that his denture plate was carved from hippopotamus ivory with a collection of human, horse, donkey teeth imbedded in the plate.
Claudius Ash mounted porcelain teeth onto 18-karat gold plates in the 1800's. Later he went on to create denture plates out of Vulcanite, (a form of hardened rubber) with porcelain teeth set into them.
Happily, things have come a long way since those days. Today's dentures look great and function almost as well as natural teeth.
No longer are dentures made out of animal teeth, today's dentures are typically created out of porcelain or resin.
Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material that is used in some dentures.
Porcelain has a number of advantages when used to create teeth for dentures:
- Porcelain has a translucent appearance similar to natural tooth enamel
- Because they feel much like natural teeth, porcelain teeth can be easier adjust to
- Teeth made from porcelain are harder and longer lasting that resin teeth
- Porcelain teeth can be colour matched to the patients natural 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 is a popular material to use for dentures these days.
Significantly less expensive and lighter to wear than dentures created with porcelain teeth, dentures made with acrylic teeth are a great option.
The down side of dentures made with acrylic resin teeth is that they tend to wear faster than porcelain teeth. That means dentures made with acrylic resin teeth are likely need to be replaced about every five to eight years.
Of course teeth of dentures require some sort of framework to hold them in place. The base for the teeth is called the plate.
Denture plates can be made from a number of different materials including rigid acrylic resin, a flexible (nylon) polymer, or even chrome cobalt metal.
Acrylic resin plates are designed with an artificial gum line that is tinted to look like the patient's natural gums.
Metal plates often fit better and tend to be more durable. Metal plates are often used for partial plates that are hidden behind the remaining natural teeth.
How Long Do Dentures Last
The better you care for your dentures, the longer they will last! Be sure to clean your dentures daily and soak them each night.
It's also important to keep your gums healthy in order to support your dentures.
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 ask your dentist to help you choose dentures that are right for you.