Dentures – What you Need to Know

You may not know it, but dentures have a long history. Around 500 BC, the Etruscans in the northern regions of Italy were making dentures out of other human and animal teeth. This practise seems to have continued right through to modern times, as United States President George Washington is famous for wearing dentures made from the ivory of hippos and elephants, real human teeth and gold. The idea of replacing one’s teeth with another’s clearly goes back a long way, and with good reason. People can in fact lose all of their teeth in a number of ways, from gum disease through to drug abuse. Dentists recommend having dentures fitted in these cases for a number of reasons:

  • Chewing is greatly aided by dentures, as opposed to edentulous areas.
  • Aesthetics is enhanced, giving support to areas and preventing the collapsed appearance associated with teeth loss.
  • Pronunciation is helped by the use of dentures, replacing missing teeth, especially the anteriors.
  • Self esteem is improved through increased self confidence given by wearing dentures.

Almost every dentist will recommend you obtain a good fitting set of dentures should you lose many or all of your teeth. The only negative connotations seem to be a matter of allowing yourself some time to adjust to wearing them in your mouth, as they will seem a little strange initially. In order to get a better idea of dentures, and the role they play, it is worth looking into when they were first commercially viable as a product, and what exactly they do. And don’t forgot to do your homework as there are dangers associated with wearing some adhesive types:

History of Dentures

Dentures, or false teeth, have been used in one form or another for over two thousand years. Losing one’s teeth, however it occurs, leaves a natural desire to fill the gap made. Some speech impediments are enhanced in individuals who lose many teeth, and of course most suffer aesthetically. Acquiring other teeth, human or animal to fill the gaps and assuage the issues caused by tooth loss seems to be a fairly common phenomenon around the world. As early as the 1770s the first set of porcelain dentures were created by Alexis Duchateau. The aim stated was to create an artificial set of teeth that could be attached to the patient, made any shade and would resemble natural teeth.

The first patent in the United Kingdom was grant to Nicholas Dubois De Chement, who began selling his wares in 1792, using porcelain paste mainly supplied by the now famous Wedgewood family. By the 1820s, dentures were being mounted on gold plates, with Samuel Stockton, a goldsmith by trade being a notable example of this. Later in the 1850s, vulcanised rubber was used as a plate for the porcelain teeth to be set into. Nowadays, synthetic and composite materials are used to fabricate dentures, usually in a technician’s laboratory.

What Do Dentures Do?

Dentures fill in the gaps where teeth have been removed. This enables the wearer of dentures to properly chew food, and a greater and wider variety of food as well. Areas of hardened gum restrict what a person can effectively and comfortably chew and filling these areas with teeth remove the restrictions. Of course, this makes life more pleasurable. Speech is helped by using dentures to fill in gaps in the mouth. Minor speech impediments can develop from loss of teeth and by having gaps in the mouth. Filling these areas in with dentures restores the teeth, and enables the wearer to pronounce words as before. It has been demonstrated that dentures are particularly beneficial in helping wearers to say words containing sibilants and fricatives.

Types of Dentures

Modern advancements in technology have promoted small advances in this area. Modern versions of removable partial denture now enable the flexible partial. The final restorations in the flexible partial denture can be made very quickly due to digital innovations, and are said to be the comfiest to wear by a good distance. They also provide high satisfaction levels, as they give highly impressive aesthetic results.

Acrylic Dentures

As could have been expected, the flexible partial denture is more expensive than the ordinary partial denture, but many agree the end result is worth it. Modern, normal dentures containing two rows of teeth are most often fabricated in the dental laboratory, using a variety of tissue shaded powders polymethylmethacrylate acrylic (PMMA). These acrylics are available as heat cured or cold cured types. Commercially produced acrylic teeth are now available in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colours.