What are dentures made of?

What are dentures made of?

For centuries humans have used dentures to replace missing teeth. Thankfully dentures have come a long way since those early days. Here's a little from our Delta and Surrey dentists about the history of dentures and what dentures are made of now. 


The History of Dentures

People have used dentures to restore the function and appearance of their smile since the very earliest times in recorded history.

In around 700BC, people in northern Italy constructed dentures out of a mixture of human and animal teeth. In the 1700's, ivory dentures made from materials including elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus were popular.

George Washington is believed to have wore some of the highest quality dentures of his time. It is rumoured that the plate of his denture was carved from hippopotamus ivory and held a collection of human, horse, and donkey teeth.

Porcelain teeth mounted onto 18-karat gold plates were created by Claudius Ash for the ultra rich in the 1800's, then later Ash went on to create dentures  constructed from a plate of hardened rubber with porcelain teeth. 

Denture technology has come a long way since those early days. Dentures today look very natural and function almost as well as natural teeth.

Dentures in 2020

Today, animal teeth no longer play a role in the manufacturing of dentures, instead our modern dentures are most often made with materials such as porcelain or acrylic resin.

Porcelain Dentures

Porcelain is a beautiful translucent ceramic material that gives artificial teeth a very natural look and feel. 

Porcelain offers a number of benefits over the acrylic dentures: 

  • Porcelain teeth tend to feel more natural than acrylic, making them easier to adjust to.    
  • Porcelain teeth are harder and last longer than acrylic resin teeth.
  • Porcelain has a translucent appearance similar to natural tooth enamel.

One of the main drawbacks of porcelain teeth is that they are much more fragile than acrylic resin dentures. Porcelain dentures may chip or break if accidentally dropped on a hard floor.

Porcelain dentures are also extremely hard and can gradually wear down natural teeth that bite against them. For this reason, dentures with porcelain teeth are most often used for full jaw tooth replacement, rather than in partial dentures.

Acrylic Resin Teeth

Acrylic resin dentures are a very popular choice among denture wearers. Acrylic dentures offer a cost effective and comfortable way to replace missing teeth. These dentures tend to be lighter to wear and less expensive than porcelain dentures.

Acrylic resin dentures unfortunately tend to wear faster than dentures with porcelain teeth, which means that they need to be replaced more frequently than porcelain dentures. Acrylic dentures typically need to be replaced every five to eight years. 

The Framework

A plate is the base of the denture which holds the artificial teeth in place. 

Denture plates are no longer carved out of ivory or formed out of gold. Today's denture plates can be made from a number of different materials, including rigid acrylic resin, flexible (nylon) polymer, or even chrome cobalt metal. 

Acrylic denture plates give a natural look to the denture thanks to an artificial gum line. Acrylic plates can be tinted to look like just like the natural gums of the patient.

Dentures made with metal plates are a good option for partial dentures where the plate is hidden behind the remaining natural teeth. Metal denture plates tend to be more durable and offer a better fit than acrylic resin plates.

If you'd like to find out more about dentures to replace your missing teeth, contact your Surrey and Delta dentist today, to book your consultation.