The Patient's Old Dentures

When a new denture patient comes to you wearing old dentures you have to evaluate them in a similar manner as if the patient had natural teeth. How much of the denture teeth are visible when the lips are relaxed or when smiling? Does the patient like the size, shade of the old teeth? When the patient closes does the vertical look open or closed? What complaints does the patient have?

Sometimes there is a deliberately made void in the middle of the palate. Maxillary dentures used to be made with an oval piece of metal on the cast. When the denture was processed the metal was removed leaving a space on the palate. It was designed as a suction chamber to create additional retention. Many times the palatal tissue hypertrophied into that space. I have never found it to work.

Look at the tissue under the denture. If the patient hasn't been taking the denture out at night, there will be a reddened, abused tissue supporting the denture. You shouldn't make a denture on such a poor foundation. Allow the tissue to return to normal by asking the patient not to wear the denture. This may be impossible for the patient to do.

Tissue conditioning is an alternative palliative procedure. This is a process of adding a soft liner to the old denture to allow the tissue to heal.

It is a good idea to take an impression (in your hand) of the maxillary denture so you have a record of the size and shape of the teeth, the number of teeth, and the arch form.

(If the patient has a bag full of dentures, chances are you are not going to satisfy them.)

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©1999 by Julius Rosen, D.D.S.