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What are dentures made of?

What are dentures made of?

People have used dentures to replace their missing teeth for centuries. Today's dentures look and function better than ever. So, what are today's dentures made out of? 

A Brief History of Dentures

Humans have used dentures since the very earliest times in recorded history. Around 700BC people in northern Italy created dentures from human and animal teeth. 

In the 1700's ivory dentures made from natural materials including elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus were popular.

George Washington wore some of the highest quality dentures of his time. His denture plate is believed to have been 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 for the very rich. Ash later went on to create denture plates out of Vulcanite, (hardened rubber) with porcelain teeth. 

Thankfully, dentures have come a long way since those early days. Today's dentures look great and function almost as well as natural teeth.

Today's Dentures

No more animal teeth in today's dentures. Most dentures today are created out of resin or porcelain.

Acrylic Resin Teeth

These days acrylic resin is a popular material for dentures.

Less expensive and lighter to wear than dentures created with porcelain teeth, acrylic dentures can be a comfortable and cost effective way to replace missing teeth.

Unfortunately, dentures with acrylic resin teeth tend to wear faster than dentures with porcelain teeth. It's likely that dentures made with acrylic resin teeth will need to be replaced every five to eight years. 

Porcelain Teeth

Porcelain, a ceramic glass-like material, has a number of advantages when used to create teeth for dentures:

  • Porcelain has a translucent appearance similar to natural tooth enamel
  • Porcelain teeth can be colour matched to the patients natural teeth
  • porcelain teeth tend to be easier adjust to because they feel much like natural teeth   
  • Porcelain teeth are harder and longer lasting that resin teeth

A disadvantage of porcelain teeth is that they are much more fragile than resin, and may break or chip if dropped on a hard floor. Also, because porcelain teeth are very hard they could wear down natural teeth if they bite against them. Subsequently,  porcelain teeth tend to be used in full dentures rather than in partial dentures.

The Framework

The teeth, regardless of what they are made of, require some sort of framework to hold them in place. The base of each denture is called a plate.

Rigid acrylic resin, flexible (nylon) polymer, or even chrome cobalt metal are a few of the different materials that denture plates can be made from.

For a natural look, acrylic resin plates are designed with an artificial gum line that is tinted to look like the patient's natural gums.

Metal plates offer a better fit and tend to be more durable. Metal plates are a good option for partial plates that are hidden behind the remaining natural teeth.

How Long Do Dentures Last

Proper care is key to longer lasting dentures! It's important to clean your dentures every day and soak them each night. 

In order to support your dentures it's also important to keep your gums healthy and strong. 

If you're considering replacing your missing teeth with dentures, do a little research into the pros and cons of different materials and see your dentist to find out which dentures are right for you.

Contact us today if you'd like to learn more about dentures and other options for replacing missing teeth.

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