What are dentures made of?

What are dentures made of?

Dentures have been used to replace missing teeth for centuries. Thankfully, today's dentures are a far cry from those used in the past. Here, our Surrey dentist tells you a bit about the history of dentures and what dentures are made of today. 


A Brief History of Dentures

Since the very earliest times in recorded history, people have used dentures to restore the function and appearance of their smile.

Dentures made from human and animal teeth were used by people in northern Italy around 700BC. And ivory dentures made from natural materials including elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus were popular in the 1700's.

It is believed that George Washington wore some of the highest quality dentures of his time. The plate of his denture is said to have been carved from hippopotamus ivory with a collection of human, horse, donkey teeth imbedded in the plate!

Claudius Ash mounted porcelain teeth onto 18-karat gold plates for the ultra rich in the 1800's, then later went on to create dentures from porcelain teeth with a hardened rubber plate . 

Dentures have certainly come a long way since those early days. Today's dentures function almost as well as natural teeth and look fantastic.

Dentures in 2020

Animal teeth no longer play a role in today's dentures, dentures are now created out of porcelain or resin.

Porcelain Dentures

Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material that has a number of advantages when used to create artificial teeth for dentures:

  • Porcelain teeth tend to be easier to adjust to because they feel much like natural teeth   
  • Porcelain teeth are harder and longer lasting than resin teeth
  • Porcelain has a translucent appearance similar to natural tooth enamel
  • Porcelain teeth can be colour matched to the patients natural teeth

The primary drawback of porcelain teeth is that they are much more fragile than resin. If accidentally dropped on a hard floor porcelain dentures may chip or break.

Another disadvantage of porcelain dentures is that the teeth are very hard and could gradually wear down natural teeth that bite against them. Dentures with porcelain teeth tend to be used in full dentures rather than in partial dentures, for just that reason.

Acrylic Resin Teeth

Acrylic resin is a very popular material for dentures today. Acrylic resin dentures are less expensive and lighter to wear than dentures created with porcelain teeth. These dentures offer a comfortable and cost effective way to replace missing teeth.

The downside of acrylic resin dentures is that the teeth tend to wear faster than dentures with porcelain teeth. Dentures made with acrylic resin teeth will likely need to be replaced every five to eight years. 

The Framework

Regardless of which material the teeth are made from, they will require some sort of framework to hold them in place. A plate is the base of the denture.

No longer carved out of ivory, there are a number of materials being used to create denture plates these days. Rigid acrylic resin, flexible (nylon) polymer, or even chrome cobalt metal are a few of the different materials being used for dentures.

Acrylic resin plates give a natural look to the denture thanks to an artificial gum line that is tinted to look like the natural gums of the patient.

Metal plates tend to be more durable and offer a better fit. Dentures made with metal plates are a good option for partial dentures where the plate is hidden behind the remaining natural teeth.

How Long Do Dentures Last

Proper care is essential for making sure your dentures last for many years. Cleaning your dentures thoroughly every day and soaking them each night will help to keep your dentures in tip-top condition. 

To support your dentures, it's important to keep your gums healthy and strong. 

If you're considering replacing your missing teeth with dentures, speak to your dentist to find out which dentures would be right for you .

Contact us today if you'd like to learn more about dentures and other options for replacing missing teeth.

From Our Team

  • Visiting the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup will help you reduce the risk of developing oral health problems in the long run.
    - Dr. Felix Zhang

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