How flexible dentures are designed and fabricated?
Flexible dentures are a type of removable partial denture used to replace missing teeth. Unlike traditional dentures, which are typically made of rigid materials like acrylic and metal, flexible dentures are constructed from a more flexible and lightweight material known as thermoplastic resin. They provide a comfortable, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing solution offering natural-looking teeth and improved functionality while being more durable. Flexible dentures are designed and fabricated using a specific process that takes advantage of the unique properties of the flexible thermoplastic material (usually nylon or Valplast). Here is how flexible denture fabrication:
- Initial Assessment: The process begins with an initial assessment by a dentist. During this assessment, the dentist will evaluate the patient’s oral health and assess the condition of the missing teeth, as well as the overall health of the gums and remaining teeth. This assessment is crucial to determining the suitability of flexible dentures for the patient.
- Impression Taking: If flexible dentures are deemed appropriate, the next step is to take impressions of the patient’s mouth. These impressions provide a detailed mold of the oral cavity and are used as a template for designing the denture.
- Design and Planning: Using the impressions, a dental laboratory technician will create a design for the flexible denture. The design includes the arrangement of the artificial teeth and the shape of the flexible base. The goal is to ensure that the denture fits comfortably and functions effectively within the patient’s mouth.
- Material Selection: The flexible denture is typically made from a thermoplastic resin material, such as nylon or Valplast. The dental laboratory technician will select the appropriate material and color that closely match the patient’s natural gum tissue and teeth.
- Fabrication: Once the design is finalized and the material selected, the flexible denture is fabricated. This involves heating the thermoplastic resin to make it pliable and then injecting it into the mold created from the patient’s impressions. The artificial teeth are also positioned in the resin base during this process.
- Adjustments and polishing: After the denture is formed, it may require some adjustments to ensure a proper fit and comfort in the patient’s mouth. The technician will trim and shape the denture as needed. Any rough edges are smoothed out, and the artificial teeth are polished to achieve a natural appearance.
- Final Fitting: The completed flexible denture is then sent to the dentist for a final fitting. During this appointment, the dentist will ensure that the denture fits well, provides proper support, and allows the patient to bite and chew comfortably.
- Follow-up Appointments: Patients may have follow-up appointments to address any concerns, make further adjustments, or ensure the denture continues to meet their needs.
Comparing flexible dentures to traditional rigid dentures.
The choice between flexible vs. rigid dentures depends on the individual patient’s needs, oral health, and personal preferences. Both flexible dentures and traditional rigid dentures are used to replace missing teeth, but they differ in several important aspects. Here’s a comparison of flexible dentures and traditional rigid dentures:
On the basis of the material:
- Flexible Dentures: Flexible dentures are made from a thermoplastic resin, typically nylon or Valplast. This material is more pliable and flexible, allowing it to adapt to the shape of the mouth.
- Traditional Rigid Dentures: Traditional dentures are typically made from a combination of acrylic and sometimes metal. These materials are more rigid and less flexible.
On the basis of comfort:
- Flexible Dentures: Flexible dentures are generally more comfortable to wear because of their flexible base, which conforms to the shape of the gums and mouth. They are thinner and less bulky, reducing irritation and pressure points.
- Traditional Rigid Dentures: Traditional dentures can be bulkier and may cause discomfort, especially during the adjustment period. They can sometimes rub against the gums and create sore spots.
On the basis of aesthetic appeal:
- Flexible Dentures: The pink base of flexible dentures closely matches the color of natural gums, providing a more natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The teeth are also designed to look like real teeth.
- Traditional Rigid Dentures: Traditional dentures can have a more noticeable pink acrylic base, and the artificial teeth might not look as natural.
On the basis of maintenance:
- Flexible Dentures: Flexible dentures are generally easier to clean because they have fewer crevices where bacteria can accumulate. Dentures maintenance should be cleaned daily to maintain oral hygiene.
- Traditional Rigid Dentures: Traditional dentures have more crevices and spaces where debris and bacteria can accumulate. Proper cleaning and maintenance are important to prevent issues like bad breath or oral infections.
On the basis of adjustments:
- Flexible Dentures: Flexible dentures can be easily adjusted to accommodate changes in the mouth or any shifting of the remaining teeth. This flexibility makes them more adaptable.
- Traditional Rigid Dentures: Adjustments to traditional dentures may require more time and effort and might need a dental professional’s assistance.