For people who suffer from gum disease or tooth loss, having an excellent pair of partial or complete dentures can positively impact their overall well-being. By providing them with a set of new teeth, you can reinvigorate their self-confidence and improve their oral health and comfort.
But when it comes to the task of acquiring new dentures, the conventional process can be daunting and labor-intensive. There’s room for a more positive, streamlined approach for both dentists and patients alike.
Fortunately, recent digital dental technologies and workflows have completely transformed the denture process from start to finish. By understanding old methods and the new cosmetic dentistry options available, you can prioritize the patient’s experience and optimize the result at the same time.
The Conventional Denture Process
To understand why modern methods can provide immense benefits to dentists and patients alike, it can help to first take a look at the traditional denture process, whether it be for complete dentures or partial dentures.
Although it still provides life-changing oral care to patients who need it, the traditional dentures process can be laborious, time-intensive, and costly. Depending on the dental practice, the various workflows involved might necessitate several appointments.
With conventional denture methods, the continued back-and-forth between touch-points may lengthen the time it takes for a patient to receive their complete or partial dentures. In addition, it can increase the opportunity for an error to occur somewhere down the line. If errors do occur, the timeline may only be further delayed. This is why dental practices are switching to a start of the art digital denture lab.
Generally speaking, there are five core steps in the conventional denture process:
- Preliminary impressions – The dentist makes a preliminary impression using a stock tray designed for patients to make an initial fit estimate.
- Definitive impressions – The dentist makes aesthetic and fit adjustments according to factors like the patient’s bite, tooth layout, and gingival contours. Then the dentist uses a customized dentures tray to take a high-quality master impression that the laboratory will use for the final model.
- Establish VDO – The dentist uses a wax tray to establish the patient’s existing vertical dimension of occlusion (VDO) and bite. They then seek to establish the correct VDO for when the dentures are in. This task can require considerable thought and planning.
- Wax try-in – Patients return to the dentist for a wax model try-in of the denture teeth. Patients gently test the bite so that the dentist can confirm VDO, comfort, and alignment.
- Adjustments and delivery – After making any needed adjustments, the dentist inserts the final dentures. Depending on the patient’s needs, there may need to be one or several rounds of adjustments.
Throughout this lengthy process, the impressions and models must be physically shipped back and forth. On average, the process can take approximately six weeks to complete and require multiple patient appointments—and that’s if every step goes off without a hitch.
The New Solution: A Digital 2-Appointment Model
The denture procedures described above have grown obsolete over the decades. While there has been some refinement of the process over the years, much of the innovation therein has been incremental at best.
But that’s changed with innovative options like Dandy’s digital denture approach. The entire workflow sequence has been completely overhauled and streamlined into a two-appointment model.
Appointment #1: The Intraoral Scan
No matter your denture case or scenario, every initial appointment will begin with an intraoral scan of the upper and lower arches.
From there, the dentist will scan the bite via dentition or appliance. These scans can create a perfect and accurate digital model that will then be exported into a 3D image. Following that, the 3D image will be uploaded to a lab using CAD/CAM dentistry technology.
Appointment #2: The Fitting
Approximately one week after the scan, the lab will send the dentist the final denture model. In the vast majority of cases, this will arrive as an optimal fit.
In other words, minor adjustments will only be necessary for a select few patients—a fact that can significantly help to reduce patient chair time and ensure the fit feels right, right away.
That’s all there is to it—in just two appointments, your patient will have a brand new smile.
The 3-Appointment Digital Denture Process for Edentulous Patients
The digital denture process can vary slightly for edentulous patients, who will require one additional appointment.
Since registering the bite can be a challenge, the dentist will first perform an upper and lower scan of the edentulous arches. Once that’s been uploaded, the lab will create a wax rim, which they’ll then ship to the dentist.
Upon receiving the wax rim, the dentist will have the patient come in for a second appointment. The dentist will use the wax rim to register the bite and perform a 360° scan. That 360° scan will be digitally merged with the intraoral scan to create a complete model.
Once the model is complete, all that’s left is to insert it at the third appointment.
Benefits of Switching to the Digital Denture Process
The digital process was designed to eliminate many of the pain points both dentists and patients experience with the traditional multi-appointment model. Advantages of digital workflows include:
- Fewer appointments – Instead of having several appointments, the digital denture process can be completed in just two appointments.
- Faster turnaround time – The digital two-step process can dramatically reduce the timeline from a six-to-eight-week process to a two-week process.
- Quick replacements – If a patient loses their dentures or the dentures break for whatever reason, that’s no problem. The denture models are already digitally stored, making it easier and cheaper to replace them since you don’t need to start from scratch.
- Increased cost-effectiveness – Since patients don’t have to spend as much time in the chair or return for several appointments, practices can dramatically increase the number of patients they see and spend more time on other value-add activities.
- Less human error and manual labor – Improved visualization accuracy leads to more accurate and consistent final models. This, in turn, results in fewer chairside adjustments, costly re-dos, or issues involved with shipping the physical product back and forth.
Your Patients Alternatives to Dentures
While not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, they are an alternative to traditional dentures. Dental implants can be used to support cemented bridges, but are more expensive than regular dentures. Always consult with your patient about their multiple teeth replacement options.
Streamline the Denture Process, Embrace the Future of Dentistry with Dandy
When it comes to fitting a patient for new dentures, accuracy is everything in digital dentistry—but delivering the best oral health care possible means making the switch from conventional denture to digital denture processes.
By partnering with Dandy, you can simplify your workflow and make your patients’ experience sparkle. Our digital oral scanners help your patients achieve the perfect fit, and case management software makes accessing patient data easier than ever.
Dandy’s new dental technology offers the versatility dentists need to handle various case types, empowering you to expedite your zirconia crown prep, orthodontic appointments, and more. Your office can expect up to 76% faster deliveries, which is the recipe for better margins and more satisfied patients.
For more information on how to modernize your dental office, get started with Dandy today.
Web MD. Dental Health and Dentures. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-health-dentures/