How Are Dentures Made?
Dentures are used to replace teeth that have been lost or pulled. After teeth are lost, the gum tissue begins to heal. After a few months, the gums and underlying jawbone have reached stability. Once this process is complete, dentures may be made. Usually, dentures may be made if at least 8-12 weeks have passed since the teeth were lost. Often, a temporary denture can be provided in the meantime so that patients are able to chew during the healing stage.
Initial Assessment and Molds:
Because every individual’s mouth is unique, each denture must be custom designed. The process of making dentures usually takes 4 to 6 dental visits, followed by occasional follow-up visits for adjustments. First, the dentist will discuss the process in detail with you to ensure that your expectations can be adequately met with dentures. The dentist will also examine your mouth to check that any remaining teeth, as well as the gums and other tissues, are healthy. X-rays may also be used to show the bone structure underneath the gums.
Following this assessment, impressions or molds will be taken of your mouth. This process uses a tray filled with a gel-like material that sets to a stiff, rubbery consistency. These molds enable a dental lab to create a plaster cast model of your mouth. The dentures can then be built for a precise fit.
Prior to your next dental visit, the technician will mold a denture model using wax. This is used to determine your bite, or the relationship between the upper and lower jaw. At this time, measurements may also be taken of various aspects of your mouth and bite. You may also be consulted regarding tooth color, size, and shape.
Using all of the provided information, the dental laboratory will now construct the dentures. Most dentures are made of synthetic plastic resins, which are wear-resistant and lightweight. Porcelain may also be used to replicate the look of natural tooth enamel, especially for the front teeth, which are more visible. However, porcelain does not hold up as well to the pressure of biting and chewing.
Initially, the dentures themselves consist of a pink wax, with false teeth set into this base. The pink portion is shaped to blend in with your existing gumline. These dentures are then returned to the dentist for a fitting to check for correct tooth positioning, bite positioning, and appearance. Several rounds of adjustments may be made at this stage.
Creation of Dentures:
Once the denture model is returned to the laboratory, the wax portion will be converted to pink plastic to mimic the gums. This process utilizes plaster molds to transfer the false teeth to a base of pink plastic. The dentures are held together under pressure in a mold, and then placed into a curing bath where the plastic hardens. Excess material is trimmed away, and the dentures are polished.
Now, the finished dentures are ready to be fitted into your mouth. During this final stage, minor adjustments may be made. This may take several visits. Occasionally, patients find that sore spots develop after the last fitting, and return to the dentist for further trimming. Finally, you will receive your new teeth. These dentures can be expected to last approximately 5 years, on average.