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What Are Flexible Dentures?

Flexible dentures are revolutionising the world of dental prosthetics, offering a comfortable and adaptable solution for those needing dental replacements. Distinguished by their innovative design and materials, these dentures are a game-changer in oral care. But what exactly are flexible dentures?

Flexible Dentures are a dental prosthetic solution for missing teeth. Made from lightweight, softer and flexible materials, they adapt to the wearer’s mouth shape. This ensures a comfortable, secure fit, while also enhancing functionality and aesthetic appeal, distinguishing them from traditional dentures.

Understanding Flexible Dentures

The introduction of flexible dentures marks a significant advancement in dental technology. They cater particularly well to patients who have experienced issues with standard dentures, like sore spots or allergies to certain materials. Their hypoallergenic nature makes them a safe choice for many.

Unlike the rigid materials used in conventional dentures, flexible dentures are made from softer, pliable materials such as thermoplastic polymers. This innovation not only ensures a snug fit but also reduces discomfort and irritation commonly associated with traditional dentures.

From an aesthetic perspective, flexible dentures are less noticeable than their traditional counterparts. The materials can be closely matched to the natural colour of the gums, making the dentures blend with the oral cavity. This feature is particularly appealing to those conscious about the appearance of dentures.

Composition and Types of Flexible Dentures

Flexible dentures represent a significant leap in dental prosthetics, primarily due to the innovative materials used in their construction. The primary substance used is a type of thermoplastic polymer, known for its flexibility and comfort. Unlike the rigid acrylic or metal bases of traditional dentures, these polymers adapt to the unique contours of the mouth, ensuring a more natural fit. Moreover, they are lightweight and hypoallergenic, making them an ideal choice for patients with sensitivities to conventional denture materials.

There are several types of flexible dentures available, each designed to cater to different needs and preferences. The most common types include:

1. Partial Flexible Dentures: These are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. They are designed to fit around the existing teeth, providing stability and a natural appearance.

2. Complete Flexible Dentures: Suitable for patients who have lost all their teeth in either the upper or lower jaw, these dentures provide a full set of prosthetic teeth on a flexible base.

3. Combination Dentures: These combine the features of both flexible and traditional materials. Typically, they feature a flexible base for comfort and a more rigid section for added strength in specific areas.

Each type of flexible denture offers unique benefits. Partial flexible dentures, for example, are known for their aesthetic appeal and ease of adaptation to the existing dental structure. Complete flexible dentures, on the other hand, are praised for their overall comfort and natural feel, especially in cases where traditional dentures have been deemed unsuitable or uncomfortable.

Advantages of Flexible Dentures

Flexible dentures have gained popularity in recent years due to their numerous advantages over traditional dentures. These benefits range from enhanced comfort and aesthetics to improved durability and ease of maintenance, making them a preferred choice for many.

Comfort and Aesthetics: One of the most significant advantages of flexible dentures is the comfort they offer. Their flexibility allows them to conform to the contours of the mouth, reducing pressure points and the discomfort often associated with rigid dentures. This flexibility also contributes to a better fit, significantly reducing the likelihood of the dentures slipping or causing sore spots. Aesthetically, flexible dentures are superior due to their ability to blend seamlessly with the natural gum line. The translucent material of the denture base allows for a more natural-looking appearance, enhancing the wearer’s confidence.

Durability and Maintenance: Flexible dentures are designed for longevity. The materials used are resistant to breakage and wear, making them a durable option for daily use. Additionally, their non-porous nature prevents them from absorbing odours or stains, which is a common issue with traditional acrylic dentures. Maintenance is relatively straightforward, requiring regular cleaning with a soft brush and non-abrasive cleaners to keep them in optimal condition.

Comparison with Traditional Dentures: When compared to traditional dentures, flexible dentures offer a significant improvement in both functionality and user experience. The rigid acrylic or metal used in conventional dentures can be uncomfortable and often requires frequent adjustments. Flexible dentures, however, provide a more stable and comfortable fit from the start, reducing the need for constant adjustments. Moreover, for patients with allergies to certain materials used in traditional dentures, the hypoallergenic properties of flexible dentures present a safe alternative.

Considerations and Suitability

When contemplating the transition to flexible dentures, it’s crucial to consider their suitability and the specific considerations that come with their use. Although they offer numerous advantages, they may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Understanding who should consider flexible dentures and the circumstances under which they are most beneficial is essential.

Who Should Consider Flexible Dentures? 

Flexible dentures are particularly suitable for individuals who have experienced discomfort or irritation with traditional dentures. They are also an excellent choice for those who are allergic to the materials used in standard dentures, such as acrylic or certain metals. Additionally, people looking for a more aesthetic and less noticeable dental solution often turn to flexible dentures for their natural appearance.

Situational Suitability

Partial Tooth Loss: Flexible dentures are highly effective for patients who have lost some but not all of their teeth. Their adaptability makes them ideal for fitting around remaining teeth comfortably.

Gum and Jawbone Changes: For individuals whose gum and jawbone structures change frequently, flexible dentures can adapt to these changes, maintaining a good fit over time.

Aesthetic Concerns: Those who prioritise a natural look find flexible dentures appealing due to their ability to mimic the gums closely.

Limitations and Considerations

Longevity: While durable, flexible dentures may not last as long as their traditional counterparts, necessitating more frequent replacement.

Chewing Efficiency: Some users may find that flexible dentures do not offer the same level of chewing efficiency as rigid dentures.

Oral Health: It’s important to maintain excellent oral hygiene, as flexible dentures, like any prosthetic, can contribute to plaque buildup if not properly cared for.

The Fitting Process

The process of getting fitted for flexible dentures is a critical step in ensuring their effectiveness and comfort. This procedure, typically straightforward and less invasive than other dental treatments, involves several key stages:

Initial Consultation and Assessment: The first step is a consultation with a dental professional. During this appointment, the dentist analyses the oral health of the patient, evaluates the need for dentures, and discusses the suitability of flexible dentures based on the individual’s specific dental conditions and preferences.

Impressions and Bite Registration: The next step involves taking precise impressions of the mouth. These impressions are crucial as they form the blueprint from which the dentures will be crafted. Additionally, bite registration is performed to ensure that the dentures align correctly and provide a comfortable bite.

Denture Fabrication: Based on the impressions and registrations, the dental laboratory crafts flexible dentures. The focus here is on ensuring a perfect fit and natural appearance, matching the colour of the gums and existing teeth if partial dentures are being made.

Fitting and Adjustments: Once the dentures are created and ready, the patient returns for a fitting session. During this appointment, the dentist checks the fit to ensure the dentures are comfortable and will then make any necessary adjustments. This stage is crucial for achieving the best possible fit and comfort.

Follow-up and Care Instructions: After the fitting, follow-up appointments are often scheduled to monitor the adaptation to the new dentures and make any additional adjustments if needed. The dentist will also provide expert advice on how to look after and maintain your dentures, ensuring their lifespan reaches the maximum.

The timeframe for getting flexible dentures can vary depending on individual cases and the complexity of the dental situation. However, patients can generally expect the process to take several weeks from the initial consultation to the final fitting.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are pivotal in extending the lifespan of flexible dentures and ensuring they remain effective and hygienic. The care routine for flexible dentures, while straightforward, requires consistent attention to detail. Here are key aspects of maintaining your flexible dentures:

Daily Cleaning: Flexible dentures need to be cleaned daily. Using a soft brush and cleaner designed for dentures will aid massively. Avoid using regular toothpaste as it can be too harsh and may cause scratches, where bacteria can accumulate. Gently brush all surfaces of the denture, including the areas that come into contact with the gums and any remaining natural teeth.

Soaking Overnight: It is recommended to soak the dentures in a denture-cleaning solution overnight. This not only helps to keep them clean but also ensures they retain their flexibility. Ensure that the cleaning solution is compatible with flexible dentures, as some solutions are designed for traditional acrylic dentures and may not be suitable.

Rinsing After Meals: Rinse the dentures after every meal to remove food particles and other debris. This helps maintain oral hygiene and prevents the build-up of plaque and bacteria.

Handling with Care: Flexible dentures, though durable, should be handled carefully. When cleaning or inserting them, do so over a folded towel or a basin of water to avoid damage if they are dropped.

Regular Dental Check-ups: Regular visits to the dentist are essential for maintaining the health of your mouth and ensuring the dentures are functioning correctly. The dentist can check for signs of wear and tear and make adjustments to the fit if necessary.

Avoiding Damaging Habits: Avoid using the dentures to bite hard objects or using them in ways that could cause damage resulting in the need for repair services. Also, steer clear of substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol, which can stain and damage the dentures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, flexible dentures represent a significant advancement in the field of dental prosthetics, offering a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and practical solution for those in need of dental restoration. From their hypoallergenic properties and natural appearance to their durability and ease of maintenance, flexible dentures stand out as a modern and efficient choice for dental patients.

However, it is important to remember that while flexible dentures offer many benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone. Individual considerations and oral health needs should always be discussed with a dental professional to ensure the best possible outcome. The process of fitting, along with the care and maintenance of these dentures, requires attention and adherence to best practices to ensure their longevity and effectiveness.

FAQs

Can flexible dentures be used immediately after tooth extraction?

No, flexible dentures are typically not used immediately after tooth extraction; a healing period is usually necessary before fitting them.

Do flexible dentures alter taste sensations?

Flexible dentures generally do not alter taste sensations, as they cover less of the palate compared to traditional dentures.

Are flexible dentures suitable for people with gum disease?

Flexible dentures can be suitable for people with gum disease, but it’s crucial to consult a dentist for a personalised assessment.

Can flexible dentures be adjusted if they become loose?

Yes, flexible dentures can be adjusted by a dentist to improve fit if they become loose over time.

How long does it take to get used to wearing flexible dentures?

The adjustment period for flexible dentures varies, but most people get used to them within a few weeks.

Medically Reviewed by:

Dip CDT RCS (Eng) Clinical Dental Technician
Determined to remain at the cutting edge of modern Dental Technology, David recently completed an intense training course in producing dentures that genuinely recreate the natural facial structures which are lost during the ageing process through tooth loss and gum regression. He, and his many patients, are overjoyed with the natural appearance and facial proportions which this new methodology offers.