Dentures have been used in various forms for centuries as a replacement for missing teeth. Also known as false teeth, there are various styles of dentures including partial and full dentures for either upper or lower jaw placement.
Dentures are typically made of an acrylic material which makes them rigid but fragile. Flexible dentures are a variation on that design using different, softer material.
What Are Flexible Dentures?
Flexible partial dentures are similar to conventional partial dentures in design, but they are very different in other ways. Typically, flexible dentures are made from a thin thermoplastic material such as nylon. Because thermoplastic is not as hard as acrylic, these dentures are flexible.
The thermoplastic nylon resin construction is thinner than traditional acrylic and as a result of the flexibility of the material, these dentures feel more comfortable when worn. This makes them easier on the wearer when eating and speaking as opposed to acrylic false teeth.
Flexible teeth do not stain, nor do they absorb odors and are a logical alternative for individuals who may be allergic to acrylic or certain metals. Plus, the thermoplastic nylon is BPA-free and is considered to be one of the most biocompatible materials in existence.
Wearers of flexible false teeth claim that because they are lighter and have a certain amount of flex, they feel very different from traditional acrylic false teeth. The lightweight difference causes these dentures to ‘disappear’ and become ‘invisible’ when worn.
How They Work
Thermoplastics are quite different from acrylic powder or liquid. That is because they would have been cured when manufactured prior to being shipped to your dentist’s lab. The manufacturing process can take many forms from sheets to pellets and powders.
The thermoplastic sheet, pellets or powder are softened when heated. This permits the material to be injected into a mold that would have been made with an impression during a visit to your dentist. The mold is the only way the thermoplastic changes shape as no chemicals are used.
The only variation that can take place with thermoplastics is related to the actual molecular composition of the nylon resin being used. Depending on the specific type, higher heat or a more intense injection pressure may be required to make them more moldable.
Not only are these dentures flexible when worn, but the material also lends itself to a great deal of flexibility in the design of different clasps that can be used. Your dental professional will be able to advise you on the best clasp solutions for your specific design and needs.
There are a number of advantages when using flexible dentures. They include:
Flexible partials generally offer a more comfortable fit than any other kind of removable partial false teeth.
Easy To Wear
If you are new to wearing false teeth, flexible teeth are generally far easier on your mouth and gums. They are also easier to get used to than traditional acrylic dentures.
Traditional acrylic dentures are often manufactured with metal parts such as clasps and clips. The flexible kind does not contain any of these items and as a result, they appear more natural.
There is only one real disadvantage to these dentures and that is the cost. They are considerably more expensive than traditional acrylic dentures. However, flexible partial dentures will last longer as they are less likely to get damaged when dropped.
Flexible False Teeth Procedure
The procedure used to fit you for dentures is very similar to that used for traditional acrylic dentures. The general steps are as follows:
The first step to your new dentures begins with a visit to your dentist. Once your situation has been assessed and flexible denture options have been discussed as the best choice for you, a model of your mouth is made. A pre-sized tray of molding material will likely be used.
Wax blocks will be used to take measurements in order to ensure that your flexible uppers or lowers have teeth placed correctly. This is done by biting into the wax blocks. With these measurements, your new teeth will fit so that they do not cause issues with chewing and speaking ability.
This is a ‘sample’ set of your new dentures that are made of wax. They allow you to wear them so that your dentist can observe the fit and be able to make adjustments prior to your actual flexible dentures being manufactured. The try-in helps to confirm full function within your mouth.
If you require extractions, a full or partial denture will replace those teeth that have been removed. This will be done on the same day. Otherwise, when the new dentures arrive, you would see your dentist to have your new flexible dentures inserted.
As you and your mouth adjust to the new false teeth, you will be required to visit your dentist over the next few weeks. This is to monitor the healing process and to ensure that the fit is correct. Any adjustments needed at this point would be taken care of at the dental office.
How To Clean Flexible Teeth
This type of dentures requires care just like traditional acrylic false teeth. However, the denture cleaning routine differs slightly from what you may be accustomed to with your natural teeth.
The flexible variety of dentures should be soaked for a period of time in a denture cleanser tablet solution.
Then the dentures should be gently brushed to remove any debris that has collected. The best way to do this is with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Follow this up by rinsing the dentures under running water to remove any loose debris and denture cleaning solution.
As with regular dentures, always take care not to drop your flexible dentures. Because they are flexible, they are less likely to break than regular dentures, but you should still treat them with care.
Flexible Dentures Cost
As is the case with traditional acrylic dentures, there are many variables that can have an impact on the price of the flexible variety of dentures. Below is a breakdown of typical costs, but these costs can vary depending on your personal circumstances, so please ask your dentist for specific information:
Removable flexible false teeth for individuals who do not require tooth extractions or any other oral preparations prior to the initial impression will range from about $700 to $1,500 USD. These prices may or may not include follow-up appointments, depending on the dental service.
For individuals who require teeth extractions as the partial denture will be replacing some of these teeth, the cost per tooth extraction can be from $75 to $450 for the average extraction. Extractions that require surgery can run from $150 to $650 per tooth.
This puts the average flexible partial dentures cost, with extractions, to the price range of between $1,000 and $6,000 USD. With more work needed in order to prepare the mouth and jaw for the procedure, the flexible dentures cost can go as high as $7,000 to $8,000 USD or more.
What These Costs Should Include
The costs noted above should include all the materials required in the steps outlined in the flexible denture procedure section. That would include the impressions, the wax model, the final dentures and fittings. Follow-up visits should also be included in the cost of this type of dentures.
Replacement of these dentures, in cases of severe damage or, if a partial is lost, are generally a little less expensive than the original denture was to get manufactured. The denture cleaning products required to keep your flexible dental plates in good condition will cost about $50 USD per year.
Flexible Dentures Manufacturers
Although you can get your new flexible dentures through your dentist or prosthodontist, the latter will likely charge more for them. There are also two main manufacturers of these products. They are Flexite and Valplast. Valplast offers a lifetime guarantee on their flexible partial dentures.
If you are seeking partial dentures and are a good candidate for them, it is good to know that you have more than traditional acrylic false teeth to choose from. The flexible kind is thinner and more comfortable to wear… Although they are somewhat more costly in comparison.
Flexible partials will last a long, long time as they are more durable than acrylic dentures. They also are less likely to get damaged. Visit your dentist today to see if these flexible denture replacement teeth options are the best solution to your specific situation.