Brighter Smiles: What Goes into a Denture?

Tuesday March 07, 2023

There aren’t too many people who really want a denture, but for many people, this is a viable way to replace loss of teeth. Regardless if it is replacing one or all the teeth, it is something removable; that is, the patient takes it in and out of their mouth.
As with many things in life, there can be a significant difference in the quality, appearance and functionality between different dentures. Here’s what Wikipedia says about making dentures:
“The fabrication of a set of complete dentures is a challenge for any denturist, including those who are experienced. There are many axioms in the production of dentures that must be understood, of which ignorance of one axiom can lead to failure of the denture case.
One of the most critical aspects of dentures is that the impression of the denture must be perfectly made and used with perfect technique to make a model of the patient’s edentulous (toothless) gums. The denturist must use a process called border molding to ensure that the denture flanges are properly extended. An endless array of never-ending problems with denture may occur if the final impression of the denture is not made properly. It takes considerable patience and experience for a denturist to know how to make a denture, and for this reason it may be in the patient’s best interest to seek a specialist, either a Denturist or a Prosthodontist, to make the denture. A general dentist may do a good job, but only if he or she is meticulous and usually he or she must be experienced.”
It is true that fabrication of dentures can be challenging and requires a strict protocol. If the techniques taught in dental school (a dental student usually makes about 2 or 3 dentures) are the only techniques used, the outcome will be mediocre at best. People may be able to get by with a $395 denture advertised on television. You can also drive around on 4 flat tires for a while.
The impression is the key for a successful denture. However, simply taking an impression of the tissues in the oral cavity is not enough to produce a high quality, precision fitting prosthesis. Using a technique called a functional impression produces a far superior result over conventional techniques. The functional impression takes a couple more visits than a traditional impression, but it is much more accurate.
Other differences of a custom denture vs. a conventional denture are the materials and laboratories used to produce the prosthesis. The quality of the materials, including the teeth themselves, play a huge role in producing a denture that not only fits meticulously, but also looks natural and life-like. Poorly made dentures are often easy to identify in normal conversation.
Staining of the “gum” portion of the denture, by a laboratory technician trained and qualified to do so, adds an even more life-like appearance, which far surpasses any conventional technique. A denture made with this technique rarely needs any adjustments, and will fit well for years.
Dental implants can be used to secure lower dentures, or eliminate the palatal coverage of an upper denture. These are the two main issues that patients have with dentures: the lower denture flops around, and the upper denture covers the palate, which decreases enjoyment of eating.
Poorly fitting dentures can decrease quality of life, cause discomfort, difficulty eating, speech problems, oral sores, bone loss and social anxiety. It makes a world of difference to have a well-made denture.
Dr. St. Clair maintains a private dental practice in Rowley dedicated to health-centered family dentistry. He has a special interest in treating snoring, sleep apnea and TMJ problems. If there are certain topics you would like to see written about or questions you have please email them to him at

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