Have you ever wondered how dentures are made? We’re here to tell you. Dentures really help make your life so much easier after tooth extraction, and the right dentures mean you can munch on a corn on the cob or laugh at your favorite funny movie with confidence. The secret to a good denture is that they are made to measure, whether you need a partial denture, a full denture, or even an immediate denture. Read on to learn how the magic happens.
You can think of your dentures as being made of two parts: the base of the denture and the teeth.
The base of the denture is made from a carefully pigmented acrylic called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). This pigmented acrylic mimics the look and color of your natural gum tissue.
The denture teeth can be made from different materials, like acrylic or porcelain, the latter being much rarer, and just as with the gum-toned base, they are designed to resemble your real teeth as much as possible.
Each denture is tailor-made for your mouth, meaning your dentist will take impressions to make a model for a perfect fit. Usually a set of dentures is made as follows:
Step 1: Your dentist will make a model. Using the denture impressions of your jaw and mouth, your dentist will create models, usually from wax or plastic, based off the impression. You will try the model several times to check for fit, shape, and even color before the denture is made.
Step 2: The model is placed in an articulator. The technician will use a mechanical device used to represent the jaw known as an articulator to attach the teeth with wax.
Step 3: The technician carves the wax. Using the wax model, the technician shapes and carves the wax, so it looks like your gums. This wax base will be used for your finished dentures.
Step 4: Set dentures in a flask. The technician places the dentures in a flask, which is a holding device into which more plaster is poured, so the shape of the dentures can be maintained. The flask is then placed in hot water and the wax is melted off.
Step 5: Inject acrylic into the plaster mold. Once the wax has been removed, the technician adds a liquid separator onto the plaster layer. This separator stops the acrylic from sticking to it, and the acrylic is then injected into the flask to replace the wax.
Step 6: The plaster is removed. The technician carefully removes the plaster mold using special lab tools and places the acrylic dentures in an ultrasonic bath to remove any remaining plaster.
Step 7: The technician trims and polishes the denture. Any excess acrylic from the dentures will be cut from the denture. After trimming, the technician will use pumice to polish it.
Step 8: Dentures are ready. Now the dentures are ready, your dentist will call you in for your initial fitting.
The digital realm has got its teeth into the denture making process, as technological advancements in digital dentistry could make life easier for you and your dentist. Although you will still need a traditional dental impression, a 3D scanner can then scan this in. Using this digital scan, software will create the ideal denture using this data and information given by the clinician. Then, using this digital model, your dentist can then make a set of dentures made from solid, perfectly cured hard resin. These dentures don’t just last longer as the material is more durable, but they should also fit better. Another benefit is you can get digital dentures in two to three appointments, and you will need fewer or even no adjustments, so you can spend less time at the dentist. However, some denture-making labs still prefer doing things manually, as they have developed their denture making skills and expertise for decades, so not everyone will offer digital dentures.
This is how your dentures are made, but that’s not the end of the story. Your dentist may need to fit and adjust your dentures, so they feel comfortable for you and won’t leave any sores behind. Your jaw and gums will shrink after tooth extraction, which means you may need your dentures adjusted in the first few months. But once everything fits, you can go back to enjoying your life and eating all your favorite foods with confidence.