In the past, dentures have been made of many different materials. Early dentures were made out of human teeth set in a wood, bone, or ivory base. They could be made from ceramics. Sometimes they were made, like partial dentures, out of metal. And then there were the vulcanized rubber dentures. But in the mid 1930s dentists discovered a new material that was very near the ideal, and it’s basically what we’ve been using ever since. But some think it might be time for a change.
The material of choice for dentures for nearly 80 years is PMMA–polymethylmethacrylate. PMMA was introduced for dentures about 1936-1938 (there’s some dispute about the date), but by 1940, it seems that it had been adopted by nearly all dentists.
The reasons why are very clear. PMMA had cosmetic advantage over vulcanite that it could be made in either tooth or gum color, it had a nice translucency for the teeth, and it retained its color for years.
But it also had many functional benefits. It could be accurately made to match impressions taken, which means a quality fit–if done properly–and it’s highly durable. If it does break, though, in many cases it can be repaired.
But it does have some disadvantages, in that it is brittle, and some people report sensitivity to the material. As a result, dentists, who are inherently perfectionists, continue to seek the perfect material for dentures.
One of the materials that is on the rise to take the place of PMMA as the denture material of choice is polyamide-12. This flexible nylon derivative is being tested as a potential replacement for PMMA. It has many potential benefits. Because it’s flexible, it eliminates the problem of rocking dentures that can lead to breaking.
In one initial trial, 100% of patients said they preferred the flexible dentures to the PMMA ones. Since these patients were all selected because they were unhappy with their PMMA dentures, this is neither surprising nor significant, except to the extent that this flexible denture does have the potential to be at least as good as PMMA for some patients.
We don’t have any long-term tests of these polyamide dentures, but we do know they have one significant limitation: they stain readily with coffee, red wine, and other substances. This will have to be resolved before these dentures can become mainstream.
If you are looking for comfortable, attractive, and functional dentures in Philadelphia, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a denture dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.
Dental Excellence of Blue Bell