What should a dentist tell a removable prosthetics patient that shows up to their first appointment with a bag of dentures?
“Tell them you’re closed,” said Dave Brandenburg half-joking. But, as the director of implant prosthetics at California Dental Arts, Dave knows that denture patients will be the happiest in your practice if you deliver a great set of prosthetics.
Denture cases can be some of the most frustrating to take on. Dentists often experience a high number of adjustments, which is as frustrating for the dentist as it is for the patient. As a result, we have seen many general practitioners refer these patients to prosthodontists. If you want to treat these patients yourself, your lab can be an excellent resource. How can a good denture lab help?
“We deliver hundreds of successful dentures each month, and we have become very good at case planning and troubleshooting difficult bites. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and we need to follow a process that has a proven track record for clinical success,” said Dave.
What we can do for denture patients is phenomenal, and it advances every year. But a successful prosthetic has to be more than functional. You’ll need to get good at communicating with patients and the lab. When an unhappy denture patient comes back to your office and tells you what’s wrong—listen. It might not be what you think.
Your patient may hate their dentures because …
“I have a hard time talking and chewing food.”
“They don’t look like my old teeth.”
“The color is wrong.”
Delivering successful denture cases is a team effort comprised of the dentist, patient and the lab. The better the communication between all three stakeholders, the better the end product. Indicate if the patient had a previous tooth mold that they liked and any lab should be able provide the tooth. Equally important is having the patient sign off on the tooth shade. The lab encounters thousands of denture cases each year, so you can rely on them to help you facilitate a smooth process. According to Dave, the most important thing to do is follow best practices with your process and protocols.
“In my experience, skipping the custom tray is asking for fit problems down the road. It takes a little bit of extra time and an extra appointment, but it saves the dentist and patient time on the backend by reducing adjustments and remakes. In my opinion, that is time very well spent.”
Equally important is recording a good bite. (The lab can help guide you through what we look for in setting a bite.) If you are uncertain of the best way to treat an edentulous patient, communicate your concerns with the lab. Your lab can help set you up for success before the patient even arrives.