Dentures are commonly thought to be an inferior solution for replacing lost teeth. However, the reality is that you can have a great smile with dentures if your Dentist takes the time with you to plan for the transition. Communication is essential and you have to let your Dentist know what your priorities are. There are a few secrets and strategies that can help you get an amazing smile with the best dentures for you. Let’s get to this!
Getting the Best Dentures Possible: Shade Matching & Being Realistic
Commonly, a patient will be replacing one arch of teeth (upper or lower) with a complete denture. It is more rare that a patient jumps right into complete upper and lower dentures. The other common scenario is that a patient will need to replace one or more missing teeth with a partial denture. This is important because both of these common scenarios require matching denture teeth to remaining natural teeth. For an upper complete denture, you should have the goal of matching tooth shade to the lower natural teeth. A partial denture case, requires accurately shade matching denture teeth to neighboring natural teeth. This is how you get the best result!
It is common that patients will aim for the whitest and brightest denture teeth possible. I totally get it. The tooth whitening industry is a billion dollar enterprise because people want bright teeth. If a patient is transitioning into complete upper and lower dentures, they have the freedom to choose the whitest teeth possible (I would still argue that in this case choosing a shade that looks realistic is advisable). One way that you can jump to whiter denture teeth while still trying to match your remaining natural teeth is to spend 1-2 weeks whitening your teeth first. Once you’re natural teeth are maxed out for brightness, have your Dentist take a shade for your denture teeth.
I have another secret that will help you achieve great things: Upper teeth are naturally 1-2 shades lighter than lower teeth. Additionally, most of us cover a significant portion of our lower front teeth when we smile. This means that the upper front teeth are the “stars of the show”. So feel free to request an upper denture that has teeth 1-2 shades brighter compared to lower natural teeth.
The opposite side of the coin is that, when choosing a tooth shade for lower denture teeth, go with something at least same-shade to 1-shade darker than your natural upper teeth. You wouldn’t want to go with a brighter shade for your lower denture teeth.
Getting the Best Dentures Possible: Tooth Alignment
The best, most natural, most esthetic looking dentures are the ones where the teeth aren’t perfectly aligned. The teeth are straight and bright, but they have slight alignment disparities just like natural teeth would. Even people who straighten their teeth through braces or Invisalign experience relapse. This is where teeth shift slightly toward old positions. So even those people with the “Hollywood Smile” don’t have perfectly aligned teeth. Remember: you are aiming to strike a balance between realism and beauty.
Getting the Best Dentures Possible: Esthetic Denture Teeth
That’s right, I said it…they actually make esthetic denture teeth. These teeth are more translucent compared to standard denture teeth. The translucency helps them to look more like natural teeth. Most patients never receive this option. The marginal increase in cost is about $75. When you are paying roughly $1,500 for a denture, that extra $75 is not a big deal to most patients. Again, there is a stigma that dentures can’t look good. The result is that there tends to be very little discussion and planning surrounding the esthetics of a denture. Ask your Family Dentist about esthetic denture teeth. You will be happy you did!
Planning for the Future
If you are transitioning into dentures in stages, you might do an upper denture first and then a lower denture later. This approach works well for patients because it eases the transition. Acclimate to a denture on one arch, then restore the opposing arch later.
When taking this approach, think about your timelines. It will help you get the best result possible. For instance, if you are getting an upper complete denture and will be having the opposing arch replaced within a year or two, don’t sweat the small stuff! Go ahead and shade your denture the way you want it. For 1-2 years, it may not match the opposing natural arch, but think big picture. You’ll eventually have both arches restored with dentures and so you can shoot for something that gives you the tooth shade that you’ll be proud of!
I hope that you’ve found these tips and strategies useful. Again, the articles I write are meant to prepare you for a fruitful discussion with your Family Dentist. They will be able to provide you with available options and address your priorities so that you can get the best dentures possible!
Thank you for reading!
Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Family Dentist
If you would like to discuss tooth extraction and denture restoration, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult with me here. Extraction, grafting and denture restoration is one of the specialty services we provide to our patients. I am honored that our Kitchener-Waterloo community has voted us Best Denture Provider through the Waterloo Region Record Reader’s Choice Awards for 2018 and again in 2019.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.