How 3D Technology is Changing the Fit and Feel of Dentures
Technology is changing almost every industry — from the arts and manufacturing to healthcare and design. Dentistry is no different; thanks to new techniques, dentists can now create the most customized denture ever.
Digital dentures don’t require messy, sticky impressions. The teeth cannot fall out of the gums. And best of all, they can look exactly how patients want, from the shade to the shape and size of their teeth.
“We can get creative,” says Dr. Jamiah Dawson of Affordable Dentures & Implants in Newport News, Va. “We are able to see what the dentures will look like through computer imaging and do whatever we want.”
Dawson, who has been offering digital dentures since October 2018, says many patients bring in photographs so their teeth can look as they once did, whether that is a small gap in the front or other personalized details. She reviews the images with her patients and makes changes until patients are satisfied with the appearance of the dentures.
Not only is the look of the dentures customizable, but the fit is also near-perfect thanks to 3D digital scanners that take images of the gums. Because the tongue and cheeks can’t get in the way, the scan is more accurate than an impression. The scans are sent to a lab that can mill an incredibly accurate denture, even for those with small gums or bones. The entire design and milling process takes seven to 14 days, though patients have temporary dentures to wear during that time.
“The fit of the digital denture is really nice,” Dawson says. “It is such a tight fit that food and other material cannot get under it, and it is a lot more comfortable than a traditional denture.”
The entire denture is cut out of one piece of very durable, yet lightweight, material by a 4-axis milling machine. After the dentures are milled, details are cut in and the teeth are polished. The final product is easy to place in, fully customized and long-lasting — more so than traditional dentures, Dawson says.
One big benefit of the 3D dentures is the single-piece design. Traditional dentures are made of two different materials that are fitted together, meaning teeth can possible fall out. With digital dentures, this isn’t possible.
The material is very strong and stain-resistant, but appears natural and life-like,” says Dawson.
“They should last more than seven years as long as you don’t lose them. They are so durable that even in studies when they were run over by a truck, they didn’t break.”
Even if patients do lose these dentures, they won’t need to take new impressions and start all over. Their denture information is saved as a digital file that can be re-milled at any time.
Customization and durability can come at a higher price, however. Digital dentures can cost between $2,250 and $4,575, depending on whether patients need surgery to remove any remaining teeth and whether they need both upper and lower teeth, along with other factors. Though Affordable Dentures & Implants does not take insurance, they provide itemized billing so patients can seek reimbursement with their insurance company. Some insurance companies do reimburse for some or all of the costs, helping reduce the price.
“They are more expensive, but they are also a lot longer-lasting than traditional dentures,” Dawson says.
To help digital dentures last longer, patients need to care for them like traditional dentures. The dentures need to be brushed each day and should be kept moist when patients aren’t wearing them.
Digital dentures represent a big improvement in quality of life for many people with dentures. Whether they feel more comfortable speaking and eating or simply feel that their smile is their own, digital dentures can help them feel more confident in themselves every day.