Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Jade Roberts
Dentures have transformed the lives of many by improving their overall oral health. Dentures have also given wearers a new, improved smile, and a functional bite. Dentures have helped create a more comfortable and fulfilling life for those individuals who have lost teeth from injury, illness, or natural aging.
Choosing the right denture material is important. The material used in dentures impacts their appearance, durability, function, and comfort. The choice of denture material will have a direct impact on the wearer’s experience.
In this guide, we will look at the various denture materials, exploring the pros and cons of each and what their unique characteristics are. The spectrum spans from traditional acrylic to innovative hybrid materials with several options in between. If you are planning on restoring your smile, this article will help you to understand the different denture material options so that you will be better equipped to make an informed decision.
Understanding Denture Materials
Denture materials serve a major purpose: they provide the base from which the entire dental prosthetic is created. It permits smiles to be rebuilt, improves oral function, restores confidence, and enhances overall quality of life. To truly understand the importance of denture materials, we need to take a closer look at each and discover what makes them unique.
The Fundamental Role of Denture Materials
Denture materials provide the foundation upon which dental prosthetics are built. They are the synthetic replacement for natural teeth and the tissue surrounding them. Here’s why it is so important to carefully choose the right denture material:
- Restoring Functionality: The function of natural teeth must be mimicked as closely as possible by dentures. It is because of this that denture wearers are capable of speaking, biting, and chewing. To ensure long-lasting functionality, the denture material must be strong and durable.
- Aesthetic Appeal: In addition to working well, denture materials must also look good. The color and texture of the material have to look realistic in the mouth and not fake. Dentures should blend in with existing natural teeth and gums.
- Comfort and Biocompatibility: Denture materials must be biocompatible which means they do not cause reactions to or irritate oral tissues. The material’s ability to be molded to the particular contours of each person’s mouth also adds to the overall comfort.
- Durability and Longevity: The material used in dentures is designed to be strong and durable. This is because dentures are not an oral health quick fix. They are intended to be a long-term solution that must endure the wear and tear of daily use.
- Cost and Accessibility: The selection of denture materials can be influenced by cost. Even though some materials have better looks and durability, they might cost more. It’s crucial to strike the right balance between price and quality.
Factors Influencing Material Selection
Many factors impact the choice of denture materials. They include the following:
- Oral Health: Material selection can be significantly impacted by the condition of the individual’s oral tissue, and how many natural teeth remain. For example, if there are some natural teeth remaining, then flexible partial dentures may be the right choice.
- Budget: The cost will be a big factor in choosing denture material. Premium materials will provide exceptional looks and durability. However, more affordable options can still offer good-looking dentures that function well.
- Personal Preferences: Some individuals may feel a certain way about a particular look or feel of dentures which can influence choice. Comfort and functionality may be their top choice or the way the dentures look could be the main factor. This can affect which type of denture material is preferred.
- Denture Type: Material selection is influenced by whether a person needs complete dentures to replace all of their teeth or partial dentures to replace just a few missing teeth. The location and extent of tooth loss are important factors.
- Dentist’s Recommendations: The decision-making process will be easier with the assistance of a dental professional. They can provide valuable advice based on the individual’s needs and make recommendations on the most suitable denture material.
Types of Denture Materials
Different denture materials are available with each having different characteristics, benefits, and disadvantages. Here is a breakdown of the main types:
Plastic, or acrylic dentures, are the most common denture choices. This is partly due to their versatility. They are lightweight, which adds to their comfort. Their advantages include:
- Aesthetics: Acrylic dentures can create a smile that looks natural and attractive by closely resembling the appearance of teeth and gums.
- Affordability: They are often more affordable than some other materials, which makes them accessible to a wider range of people.
- Adjustability: A dentist can easily adjust or reline acrylic dentures to improve the way they fit.
There are a few disadvantages to acrylic dentures. They include:
- Durability: These dentures can be chipped or broken as they are not as durable as other materials.
- Staining: Over time, acrylic dentures can stain if they are not cared for properly.
- Thickness: For acrylic dentures to be strong, they have to be thicker than other types of dentures. This can impact how comfortable they feel.
Acrylic dentures are a good choice if cost is a factor. They are functional as both complete or partial dentures and look good provided they are given proper care.
Porcelain dentures are a popular choice because of how they look and their durability. They are similarly constructed like an acrylic denture with the main difference being the teeth utilized are made of porcelain. Some of their benefits include:
- Natural Appearance: If you are trying to replicate natural tooth enamel, this material offers a lifelike appearance.
- Stain Resistance: Porcelain does not stain easily and is the right choice if discoloration is a concern.
- Durability: Compared to acrylic, porcelain does not suffer as much wear and tear. It is also very durable.
If appearance is your primary concern, porcelain dentures are a good option. They are the perfect choice if you are replacing front teeth or when cosmetic appeal is your preference.
Because these dentures are flexible, they can more easily adapt to changes inside of the mouth. They are usually made from thermoplastic resins like Valplast. The unique features that flexible dentures offer include:
- Comfort: These are lightweight, so they are comfortable to wear.
- Aesthetics: The translucency and gum-like color of the material in flexible dentures makes them look lifelike.
- Partial Dentures: Flexible dentures are a logical choice for partial dentures providing a better fit around existing natural teeth.
These dentures are typically made from titanium or cobalt chromium with acrylic. They provide several advantages including:
- Strength: Metal-based dentures are less likely to break because of their strength, which also makes them very durable.
- Thin Profile: These dentures tend to be much thinner than other materials making them very comfortable to wear.
- Stability: The framework of metal dentures is stable allowing for the support of more teeth.
If maximum strength and stability are required, metal-based dentures are usually the right choice. They are also used for implant-supported dentures.
Hybrid Denture Materials
Technological advancement and innovation have led to the development of Hybrid dentures or fixed dentures, which is a metal-acrylic or metal-ceramic denture with implant placement for stabilization. This type of denture is typically completed with a dentist who understands their fabrication process due to their complexity but is the top-of-the-line choice when having a denture made that you would not want to remove. Hybrid solutions provide superior performance, and address challenges that are associated with other denture materials.
Hybrid denture materials combine the advantages of different materials together to create the best solution for comfort, durability, and looks.
Examples of hybrid dentures include:
- Metal-Acrylic Hybrid Dentures: As you can imagine, the metal framework of these dentures is strong and durable. Combined with the look and comfort of acrylic teeth and gums, you have long-lasting, good-looking dentures.
- Metal-Ceramic Hybrid Dentures: The durability of a metal base is combined with the natural look of ceramic teeth to make this hybrid. This is the perfect combination for individuals seeking a balance between looks and strength.
Advantages of hybrid dentures include:
- Enhanced Durability: Hybrid dentures tend to outperform other types when strength and longevity are the measuring factors. This means they will last longer.
- Improved Aesthetics: A more natural appearance is possible when materials are combined. This means the dentures look as if they fit in with natural teeth.
- Customization: The specific needs and preferences of an individual can be closely met with hybrid dentures.
- Comfort: Overall comfort is enhanced due to the removal of excess acrylic because of the implant support. This allows for a patient to have a denture in their mouth without material covering the palate or extending far up along the gums.
Factors Influencing Material Selection
Several factors determine the type of material that is best for an individual’s dentures. Here are a few of the key ones:
- Oral Health: Gum health, bone density, and whether any natural teeth are remaining are all important factors that need to be considered when assessing an individual’s oral health. If the person has strong, healthy gums and adequate bone support, they may have more flexibility when it comes to choosing denture materials.
- Budget: Cost is a factor for many people these days. Although some denture materials provide high quality and durability, they are not the most affordable of the options.
- Personal Preferences: Some people may look to aesthetics as their top priority while others may look at comfort and price as their top factors. Personal preference can have a huge impact on denture material selection.
- Type of Denture: Complete or partial dentures will influence material choice. Complete dentures may require stability, whereas partial dentures need materials that are flexible and adaptable.
Denture Maintenance and Care
To keep your dentures lasting longer and performing well, it is important to take proper care of them. This is regardless of what denture material they are made from. Here are some guidelines to help you maintain your dentures:
- Cleaning Techniques: Clean your dentures at least twice a day with a soft-bristled denture toothbrush and denture cleaning solution or warm water. Regular toothpaste contains abrasives that can damage your dentures as can a regular toothbrush. A denture brush is also shaped to reach into places a regular toothbrush cannot. Thoroughly rinse your dentures after each meal to remove loose food particles.
- Storage: When you are not wearing your dentures, keep them in a soaking solution to keep them from drying out. Do not use boiling water because that can cause your dentures to warp. Handle them carefully and always place your dentures on a soft surface to prevent damage.
- Oral Hygiene: Even if you wear dentures, you still have to care for your oral hygiene. Brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a soft-bristled toothbrush to encourage blood circulation and remove bacteria.
- Regular Check-ups: Keep seeing your dentist regularly to have the condition of your dentures monitored so your oral health is reviewed. Your dentist can identify issues before they become serious with regular check-ups.
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Do not use harsh chemicals, bleach, or other abrasives on your dentures as this may damage or discolor them.
- Repair and Maintenance: Consult your dentist as soon as possible if you discover chips, cracks, or changes in how your dentures fit so the issues can be dealt with quickly.
This guide to denture materials has covered a vast spectrum of options available to you. The decision to choose the right denture material is not as easy as it may first sound. Several considerations must be factored into the decision-making process. These factors range from budget and personal preferences to oral health.
It is also imperative to include the feedback and suggestions of a qualified dental professional when making your final choice. Your dentist can suggest options best suited to your specific needs and circumstances.
Choosing the right denture material is an important first step to achieving a comfortable confident smile. For more information on the complex world of denture materials, contact your dental professional.