Advancements in Prosthetic Denture Technology
For many, the ideas of a prosthesis and a denture may seem like two different concepts. Most people envision a prosthesis as being a replacement hand, foot, arm or leg while dentures are envisioned to replace teeth in one’s mouth. However, both understandings merge in the mouth. A set of partial or complete dentures is also a set of prostheses, because teeth are being replaced by a synthetic part, just like the replacement of a hand, foot or leg.
Perhaps the most widely-recognized ancient prosthetic sat on the hand of the notorious Pirate: Captain Hook, in the story of Peter Pan. It is said that Christopher Newport, a privateer who lost his arm, was the inspiration for Captain Hook. History records a pirate that roamed the Mediterranean known as Captain Oruc Reis in the 1500’s who also lost his arm and replaced it with a hook and who, along with his brother, continued to plunder the area oceans for years after his accident. It is common to see peg legs in historical movies, Hollywood re-enactments and fanciful tales. But there was the odd recording in history of such prostheses in use.
Even dentures have a long history with archaeologists uncovering evidence that Etruscans and Romans fashioned dentures as far back as 7BC. Needless to say, dental prosthetics have improved as the centuries have gone by. Even in the last 50 – 80 years, dentures have undergone some drastic improvements. How many of us can relate stories of geriatric family members laughing so hard they spit their teeth out? Or discovering the hard way they couldn’t chew taffy and it temporarily glued their dentures together?
Technology now exists whereby dentures sit better in the mouth. Painful tales of oral sores are drastically reduced. Dentures now fit better and are far less likely to slide out unexpectedly. A person’s ability to eat certain foods that used to cause problems is now reduced by up to 70% in more high-end denture applications.
One of the technological breakthroughs allowing for such increased usage and comfort, is what is known as the Dental Implant. The Dental Implant is a metal post attached to the jaw bone providing a better locking hold on the denture so that it stays in place. Some implants are created so that only the denturist can remove them. Other implants make it easy for the patient to remove and replace, but hold the denture in far better than other products on the market. This author has memories of an advertisement on TV years ago promoting a green paste that claimed if you applied it directly to the gum, that the denture would never shoot out of your mouth again. People who tried it had mixed results. Dental implants remove the need for such short-term gimmicks.
Even partial dentures are improving in technology these days, with the ugly metal band now being replaced by gum-coloured or tooth-coloured saddle clamps instead, making for an almost-invisible connection between the denture and the anchoring teeth around it.
Denture fit has also improved in leaps and bounds over the last 50 years, such that some prosthetic companies now offer materials that the dentist can mould to your mouth right at your chair in his office. Materials that hold the synthetic teeth in place are now being made to imitate actual gum coloration to give you an even more invisible prosthetic to someone who has never met you before. This author’s sister used to work in a dental lab where they actually create the teeth used in these gum-imitating materials and it truly has become an art-form. Dental artistry actually is a thing now, and the more you are willing to pay, the more artistry goes into matching your new teeth as closely and seamlessly as possible to your old. Use of colours, attention to detail, and a love for all things miniature, now combine with dental health to create smiles people are falling in love with.