Why Dentures Are Actually the Haute Couture of Dentistry

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close up of a man in a custom suit adjusting his fancy cuff link
Peter Drews in a custom-made suit
That’s me in my custom-made suit.

‘Prêt-à-porter’ is a French phrase, used in the fashion industry, which means ‘ready to wear.’ Clothes that are mass produced, following a standardized pattern and sizing chart, are said to be ready to wear. Right off the rack. It’s how we all buy the vast majority of our clothes.

Some clothing brands tend to fit better than others, and there are often variations in size. I can never find a shirt at the Gap or J. Crew that doesn’t make me feel like I’m Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk!

When I got married, I skipped dealing with Men’s Wearhouse and just had something custom made. Fit, aesthetics, and comfort are all important when it comes to wedding apparel; and, unlike my wife, I have been able to use my outfit after the big day.

Good dentures should fit like a custom suit! Lots of measuring, decisions about color and shade, and then several appointments along the way to make sure everything fits properly in all the right places, feels good, and looks great.

~ Peter Drews, DDS

Dollar Store Smile vs Million Dollar Smile

There’s a pawn shop here in Lewiston that has a case full of ‘well worn’ and ‘gently used’ dentures. Now, aside from the obvious sterilization and hygiene concerns, trying on a selection of dentures from a dusty cabinet is not quite in the same realm as bargain shopping for some cool vintage eyeglass frames at a consignment shop. I could give my suit to Goodwill, but chances are there aren’t going to be that many guys who will be able to just put it on and head out the door without some serious alterations.

Unless you’re seven, missing teeth just aren’t cute. Aside from the aesthetic issue, teeth are needed to eat, speak, maintain the position of your other teeth, and prevent jaw bone loss as well as supporting facial structure.

A prosthodontist is more than just a ‘denture maker.’ Prosthodontists have completed the requisite four years of dental school, followed by three years of specialized training in dentures and crowns. A denturist is a paraprofessional who completed a two to three year program from an accredited school, and is then qualified to design, create, construct, and modify a removable dental appliance.

Going to a denturist for dentures does not replace the need for a dentist. Dentists are the only licensed dental professionals that can check for signs of infection and disease; oral cancer being the biggie. Regardless of some teeth, or no teeth, it’s crucial that everyone visit a dentist at least annually.

Getting Dentures From a Dentist

dental surveyor

When lights start flashing on your car’s dashboard, or you hear a noise that can no longer be masked by turning up the radio, you drop your car off at a mechanic shop and pick it up later.

If you have a problem with your dentures – say some teeth fall off, or you want to get some new dentures – it’s not quite as simple.

It’s not like ordering a pizza ‘to go.’ You can’t just place your order online and then swing by in 30 minutes to pick it up.

The process of addressing denture issues requires a certain level of attention and care. When a problem unexpectedly appears, it’s not as straightforward as that large pepperoni to go. Online transactions won’t swiftly solve your problem; a meticulous approach is key.

I have my patients come in four times (which does not include follow up appointments to adjust things) if we are making a denture from start to finish.

From the initial appointment to taking them home, quality dentures really are like that custom-fit suit . . . they look great, they feel great, and they function well.

What you can expect from denture appointments!

1. The initial appointment is all about information gathering.

We take impressions of your upper and lower arches (as they do not move in isolation of each other) and we determine what shade of tooth we want to get – so it matches the others in your mouth.

2. The second appointment is all about the metal framework.

At your 2nd appointment you get to try on the metal framework (no teeth yet!) just to see how it fits in your mouth. More measurements are taken to check where your upper and lower arches come together so that we can determine the relationship between the gums and get the bit correct (in preparation for the teeth). Getting a correct concentric relation (aka, optimum bite) is very difficult to achieve and without a good bit registration, a denture is essentially useless.

3. The third appointment involves a metal framework with wax teeth mounted.

At your 3rd appointment you’ll get to try on the adjusted metal framework with wax teeth mounted to confirm you like the look, the fit, the feel, and the colors. Once approved, then (and only then) the lab will set the teeth and finish everything in acrylic.

4. The fourth appointment involves a final fitting.

At your 4th appointment you’ll get to try on your new partial or denture and take it home! We also typically schedule and appointment for an adjustment approximately one week later so you have a chance to “settle in” to your new appliance and we see how things are going. If there are sore spots or other issues, they can often be tweaked chair side until it feels ‘just right!’

Cheaper Doesn’t Always Mean Better

 “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.  When you pay too much, you lose a little money- that’s all.  When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”
~ John Ruskin

upper denture appliance

Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, but ultimately the longer lasting products are going to be more cost-effective over the long haul. Providing professional dental care is more than just the fabrication of an appliance, it’s also the care and maintenance of the appliance to ensure it’s working for you.

A problem with your denture can have a knock on effect to remaining teeth, gums, and bone. Learn more about the effects of poor fitting dentures.

I’ll leave you with this final thought: If you needed a prosthetic leg to be able to walk, would you really want anyone other than a physician treating you?

peter's signature

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