Did you know that 36 million Americans are missing all of their teeth? According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 15 percent of these people have dentures made every year. In some states, these people can choose to visit an independent health care professional called a denturist. They provide denture services directly to patients.
Dentists provide dentures, too. However, there are some reasons why you might decide to see a denture specialist. You could be referred to a denture specialist by your regular dentist. Or, you may want to see a denture professional for financial reasons.
Denturist: What They Do
These professionals are responsible for creating dentures for people who are missing some or all of their teeth, explains the Oregon State Denturist Association (OSDA). To start, they take impressions of the gums and any remaining teeth. With these impressions, they design and create appropriate dentures. Then, the denture professional fits the dentures into the patients' mouth to check for comfort.
Education, Training and Specialization for Denturist
The profession of denturism is regulated on the state level, so education and training can vary among locations. For example, in Oregon, denturists qualify through an associate's degree program or equivalent education. They also need to have 1,000 hours of supervised clinical practice, either through their college or through an approved supervisor, explains the Oregon Health Authority. They need to take a practical exam to become licensed to practice denturism.
Pros and Cons of Seeing a Denturist
There are some advantages of seeing these professionals for denturism services. Because they perform their laboratory work onsite, their services are cost- and time-effective, explains the OSDA. For people who are seeking affordable dental care or who want dentures right away, these can be selling points of a visit to a denturist.
Unlike dentists, denturists only specialize in denture services. A dentist can examine your gums, remaining teeth and other parts of your mouth for potential issues, but those tasks are outside the denture specialist's scope of expertise. To keep your mouth healthy, it's important to see a dentist regularly.
Caring for Your Dentures
Whether you decide to see a dentist or denture specialist for your dentures, you need to take good care of your dentures. They need to be cleaned just like natural teeth do. Dentures should be cleaned after each meal. Brush your removable dentures with a special denture brush or a toothbrush like the Colgate 360° Enamel Health Soft Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth, which has 48 percent softer bristles. Regular toothpastes can scratch your dentures, so the American Dental Association recommends using a gentle cleaner like a denture cleanser or soaking your dentures overnight. Be sure to clean your dentures only after you've removed them from your mouth, and rinse them well when you're done. Also, be careful not to drop your dentures while you're brushing them, as this could cause chips, cracks or other damage.
Both dentists and denture specialists can help you regain your smile with dentures. If you're interested in dentures, talk to your dentist to learn more.