Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Metal based partial dentures are about to become extinct

Compared with other technologies that have been replaced with new innovations, partial dentures or removable bridges will soon become a thing of the past because the knowledge to construct them will no longer exist. Unlike the need for full dentures, which has been reduced by preventive dentistry, the demand for partial dentures is on the rise.The reason that people lose their teeth is not always neglect. Accidents, sports injuries, genetics, prosthesis work done by cheap, less-than-quality laboratories are some of the other reasons. An improperly designed partial that fails to take in the biophysics of the oral cavity can be as damaging.Unlike a fixed bridge that requires the reduction of healthy teeth and the stress that is put on them to absorb the shock of the entire bridge span during mastication, a partial denture shares the shock with the edentulous ridge and the teeth clasped. By relining the partial every year and a half to two years, the partial can last decades and cost only a fraction of a bridge. Also unlike a cemented bridge, if another tooth is lost in the future, a denture tooth can be easily added to the same partial. Since the exacting construction of partials involves some very complex procedures, achieving desired results requires expertise. Unfortunately each procedure is usually handled by a technician familiar with only one phase of the construction process. The technician that oversees the entire process from start to finish is the department head of the partial department or the laboratory owner. For a technician to reach that level of expertise requires talent, dedication, and a minimum of five working years under the supervision of an experienced technician. Unfortunately, most of such experienced technicians, such as me, have already left the dental industry. The few dental technology schools in the United States that still remain open no longer teach partial denture construction. Before the handful of talent disappears completely, the knowledge they possess must be passed on to the next generation of technicians.Various dental, government, and outside organizations must take immediate action if this technology is to survive. I have authored several articles in dental magazines and newspapers calling attention to this problem. The only response generated so far has been from the general public. No one else seems to care.The dental manufacturers I contacted demonstrated little concern, the officials from the ADA told me that I’m being a pain and asked me to leave them alone. When I attempted to expose the truth in an on line dental journal, I immediately became a target of a few obnoxious dentists and crown and bridge technicians. By eliminating partials all together, they hope to force people to spend money on implants, crowns and bridges, dental work that only the rich can afford.
Arvid Saunaitis
Former certified dental technician - laboratory owner

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