By: Prosthodontist Matthew French
Into the Digital Age: Digital Dentures
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, around 24% of people ages 65-74 and 31% of people over the age of 75 are edentulous, and thus require replacement of all their teeth.* For many, they choose to replace their teeth dentures.
You may have ideas of what a denture is and is not and what the process is for creating and delivering a denture. Some patients struggle with adapting to dentures while others have worn the same pair for over 30 years. However, whenever a new pair is needed, both groups know that it takes a lot of steps to get the final prosthesis. Digital dentures are the future of creating a more predictable denture with fewer steps, saving you time between appointments and resulting in a better product!
What Are Digital Dentures?
Digital dentures are dentures fabricated with an entirely digital process using a wide array of data. By using photographs, digital scans of the impressions/bite, and a 3D smartphone facial scan, we can merge that information with a proposed denture design to produce a denture that is easily adjusted by a computer.
Advantages of Digital Dentures
Conventional dentures require five appointments:
- Preliminary impression
- Final (more detailed) impression
- Wax bite
- Wax tooth esthetic try-in
- Final delivery
On the other hand, digital dentures can be made in 2-3 appointments depending on the situation. The increased efficiency with a digital approach means fewer visits to the dentist. This can be especially beneficial for those who have difficulty getting to and from our clinic, including patients who are wheelchair-bound, in nursing facilities, or those just seeking to replace their teeth faster.
Digital dentures solutions can also be used to reproduce certain aspects of your current denture set. A reline of the old dentures along with a scan of the denture itself can be used to duplicate a new, better fitting denture that duplicates the same esthetics or improves on the old set.
Receive More Predictable Results
Dentures are a scientific and artistic prosthesis. The traditional denture fabrication process puts pressure on the dentist to incorporate several pieces of data via a partially subjective viewpoint using research-backed processes as a guide. This can lead to the same denture being made differently by different dentists.
Digital dentures reduce this by extracting and using a wide arrange of data. Through photos, digital scans and 3D imaging, we can combine this information with a proposed denture design to produce a denture that is easily adjusted by a computer. Digital dentures also offer a wider array of tooth shape selection compared to the set molds of denture tooth companies, which leads to a more customized product.
Achieve a Better Dentures Fit
Conventional dentures are made by converting wax into acrylic. This process can lead to shrinkage of the denture ever so slightly that the denture may not be as retentive or may require additional adjustments at the time of delivery. Additionally, not all the acrylic fully cures in some of the processes depending on how it is handled, which can lead to a residual chemical called monomer that is irritating to some patients.
Digital dentures are milled from fully processed pucks of acrylic, which means they have superior strength and reduced residual monomer. The accuracy of these milled dentures is higher too. Digital dentures can also be 3D printed, which reduces the amount of waste produced.
Creates a Digital Library for Remakes
One of the most exciting aspects of digital dentistry is the ability to reproduce dentures without the need for additional appointments. With the conventional denture technique, if you lost your denture it would take five appointments and nearly four to six weeks to get your denture completed. For digital dentures, the digital files are saved on the computer and can be remilled or reprinted in as little as one appointment.
Are Digital Dentures the Right Option for Me?
Digital denture solutions come in many varieties. At Dental Associates, we pride ourselves in offering unique treatment plans to patients. Ask your provider how a digital denture solution will work for you!