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The difference in acrylic (plastic) vs. metal (Cobalt Chrome) dentures

The Difference In Acrylic (Plastic) Vs. Metal (Cobalt Chrome) Dentures

Many people come to our dental practice and ask me about metal dentures vs plastic dentures, so we thought we would write an article to explain the main differences! If you have no teeth left, then plastic dentures are generally the best, however, if you have some remaining teeth, it’s definitely worth considering a metal denture, as they have so many advantages:

  1. Clasps

The Difference In Acrylic (Plastic) Vs. Metal (Cobalt Chrome) Dentures
If you have remaining teeth present, we can use these teeth to help keep the denture in place, improve stability, and improve support. We can place clasps, which are the metal wires that clip around your teeth, and they help to keep the denture in as well as help stop it from rotating.

You can actually use clasps on plastic dentures, but they don’t work nearly as well as the proper cobalt chrome ones that are placed in metal dentures. This is due to many reasons, the main one being the type of metal.

In metal dentures, the clasps are made from cobalt chrome, and are cast as part of the actual metal framework. The properties of cobalt chrome are the perfect balance between deformation, stiffness, and elasticity, meaning that it will perform well for many years.

With the plastic dentures, we can only really ‘glue in’ stainless steel clasps, which are not very stiff and tend to deform very quickly. As they are not very stiff, it means that the denture doesn’t stay in well.

  1. Support

Metal dentures also have rest seats placed in them for better support.

Dentures can either be tooth supported (best), gum supported (worst), or a tooth and gum supported (second best).

Support is the element that stops the denture from sinking into the mouth and moving around when you bite down. All metal dentures will have some element of tooth support and the more support you have, the better.

Plastic dentures have the worst kind of support (gum supported) and when you bite down, all the pressure will go onto your denture and then onto your gums.

Your gums are not very good at withstanding this pressure, as they are much softer than your teeth and plastic dentures are often referred to as ‘gum strippers’ by dentists for this reason.

Plastic dentures can cause a great deal of damage to the gums surrounding your teeth and that’s why teeth with well-made and well-engineered metal dentures last a lot longer.

Think of the difference between building a house on concrete as oppose to sand!

  1. Bulkiness

As metal is much stronger than plastic, we can make it a lot thinner and smaller, meaning that your dentures won’t feel as bulky as the plastic ones. The difference between metal and plastic is that the plastic ones will be loose and bulky, and the metal ones will be better fitting, stay in well and be less bulky.

They will also build up less plaque as they will be smaller, meaning your teeth last longer.

  1. Better Fit

The Difference In Acrylic (Plastic) Vs. Metal (Cobalt Chrome) Dentures
Metal dentures have a great fit compared to acrylic dentures due to the way the metal is cast, meaning that they are more comfortable.

  1. Leave your palate uncovered

As we can place clasps for better retention, meaning that the dentures stay in really well – we don’t need to cover your palate. This has the following advantages:

  • Taste of food is better compared to an acrylic (plastic) denture,which covers the roof of the mouth
  • More comfort during eating, as you can feel the texture / temperature of food on your palate
  • More comfort whilst wearing the denture
  • Zero gagging as the denture doesn’t go far back in your mouth

As you can see, there are many advantages of the metal dentures when compared to the plastic ones and it is surprising how many dentists still make plastic dentures when there are better alternatives. If your considering getting a denture or would like to upgrade your current denture to a one that performs a lot better, then give us a call and we would be happy to help.

Updated Notes:

As mentioned previously, Cobalt-Chrome dentures are generally much better than acrylic denture, however there are some disadvantages. For the purposes of providing a well-balanced article, here they are:

  1. Cost – Cobalt Chrome is a lot more expensive. This is because the raw material is more expensive, it takes longer to make and takes a lot more skill by the dentist and technician to make a good set. In my opinion there are very few good technicians remaining and it’s an essential part of the process. This means you must pay more for quality!
  2. Aesthetics – Metal dentures obviously don’t look great because of the colour. The only part of the metal you may possibly see is the clasps. We always try and hide the clasps where possible, but sometimes if you want to use them, they will be on show. If this is the case a discussion is required on the pros and cons and the patients will decide what’s best for them.
  3. Time – It takes longer to make a cobalt chrome denture as opposed to an acrylic denture.

As there are pros and cons of all treatments, a discussion should take place prior to having dentures made, so that clear treatment goals are met. If you would like more information, please come and visit us for a complimentary examination.

Written by Dr Suril Amin


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