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How Far False Teeth Have Come: The Benefits of Modern Dentures

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Dentist holding dentures in his left arm and doing a thumbs up with his right hand.

Dentures date back thousands of years and have been improving consistently since then. We have come a long way since the days of wooden teeth.

US President George Washington swore his oath while wearing a special set of dentures made of ivory, gold, and other materials. Since then, dentures have grown in popularity as a way to replace damaged or missing teeth and improve our look. 

People in Europe started wanting dentures in the 1800s. In search of that natural look, teeth were sometimes removed from deceased humans. Some traditional dentures were crafted from wood, bone, wire, and repurposed animal and human teeth.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that porcelain teeth were being made.

What’s Changed?

Thankfully, a lot has changed since then and dentures have become more natural-looking and comfortable. 

Now there are options to suit your needs, including permanent and removable dentures:

Today, denture clinics make artificial teeth out of porcelain, acrylic resin, and other materials. Denture bases are made from polymethyl methacrylate, metal, and flexible nylon materials. The type of materials used will depend on what type of dentures you need.

Old vs. New

We have learned that using denture materials like lead could negatively impact our health. Gold and ivory can be expensive and don’t replicate the natural tooth look as well as new materials do.

Gold, lead, and alloys were used in the past for bases, but updated materials are more stable, fit better, feel more natural, and don’t absorb as much bacteria.

The Progression of Modern Dentures

It is possible that dentures grew in popularity and therefore evolved quickly due to the psychological and physical impacts of missing teeth.

Living with missing teeth and tooth decay can cause chewing and jaw problems, and can distort a person’s face. The World Health Organization considers a lack of natural teeth as a physical handicap. More than 1 million Canadians live without any natural teeth. &

Over the past 40 years, Canadians have been increasingly visiting their dentist and overall dental decay has decreased significantly.

Dentist holding pair of dentures in his hand

Feel Comfortable & Look Natural

Having functional teeth for chewing is crucial, but having a presentable smile is almost just as important. 

Your Dentures Should be Comfortable

It’s no surprise that dentures have become more comfortable over time. Having metal wires and carved teeth in your mouth must not have been very enjoyable. 

Although dentures should not cause pain, there is an adjustment period that can cause some discomfort. Sometimes, teeth need to be removed before dentures can be made or implanted. 

Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) has been around for decades. It can be brittle and fragile, but it is still soft enough to wear without much discomfort. PMMA looks like your natural gum line.

Chrome cobalt alloy has replaced the old metal bases that were once made from gold, gold alloys, and lead. Its stability and rigidity give it a comfortable fit.

Flexible nylon materials are growing in popularity and can offer more comfortable insertion and removal. Nylon materials like Velplast and Flexite are some of the newer types of denture bases available.

Get That Natural Look

Everyone wants healthy teeth. Nice and natural teeth can be achieved with updated tooth technologies and high-quality material.

Porcelain teeth look natural and provide a feeling similar to healthy teeth. Porcelain does wear down faster than natural teeth and is heavier than its less natural-looking counterpart: acrylic resin.

Acrylic resin teeth adhere better to the base and are stronger than porcelain. However, acrylic resin wears down faster than porcelain and doesn’t look as natural.

Deciding on Dentures

The only way to know for sure if you need dentures is to speak with your dentist or denturist. Fewer people these days experience tooth loss, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Some oral health signs you may need dentures can include:

  • Missing, loose, or moving teeth
  • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing
  • Red, swollen, sensitive, or bleeding gums
  • Poor dental hygiene or dental and gum disease

Dentures are a common option for people who are missing teeth. Technology is constantly progressing, creating happier and more comfortable smiles. 

You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that comfortable modern dentures are available to you today. Unlike George Washington, you shouldn’t have to worry about living without a nice toothy grin.

Written by Wade Klimpke

Wade Klimpke is a past President and long-standing member of the College of Alberta Denturists. Wade leads a number of industry working groups which help advance and monitor old, current, and new industry developments. This has allowed him to gain a number of industry relationships with implant dentistry suppliers in Canada and the United States.
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