We’re going to let you in on a secret: dentistry isn’t magic. It’s a science, combined with more than a little art. Dentists that provide expensive dentures and those that provide cheap ones are bound by the same constraints, they just make different choices about how to deal with them. And every one of those choices impacts the quality of your dentures.
Cheap Materials and Fast Processes
As near as we can figure, the last denture elves sailed to the Grey Havens in 1785. Since then, all dentures have been made by humans (with, it’s possible, the occasional set made by trained chimps in a carnival side show. I’d buy that for a dollar, but I wouldn’t put it in my mouth!) So if a dentist wants to save money on the dentures they sell to you, they have to make concessions in the dentures themselves. Often, this means that the dentures are made of cheap materials, with standard plastics used for both the base and the teeth. These dentures can’t help but look cheap because of their materials.
Another way that dentures can be made more cheaply is if they’re put together on an assembly line. These generic dentures are designed for a generic mouth and come in a few basic sizes. These dentures can be impressed on your gums so they’ll fit your gums, but what are the odds that they’ll really fit your mouth?
One Patient at a Time
Probably the most expensive thing in the denture process is your dentist’s time. Because we haven’t figured out how to bottle that yet, and your dentist can’t magically be in two places at once, in order to lower the price of dentures, your dentist has to spend less time with patients.
The one-size-fits-all (or three- or six-) dentures approach can save your dentist a lot of time. He can even turn the process over to an assistant. This also helps because a cheap denture dentist is likely very aware of their thin margins and is trying to squeeze in as many patients as possible in the time they have available.
But if you want dentures that don’t just fit on your gums, but really fit your bite, it takes time and skill. Your dentist has to measure your mouth, including your jaw joint and muscles. It’s a sensitive process to ensure that your dentures will properly match your bite, but the rewards are great.
Your dentures will be more comfortable, will stay in place better (especially with dental implants), and will fully support your facial tissue. If you’ve ever noticed how people with dentures look older, it’s because their dentures don’t fit. When dentures don’t fit, they let the tissues of the face sag or fold in around the mouth, creating wrinkles and folds.
And the question of time also applies after you’ve gotten your dentures fitted. If you’re having problems with your dentures, your cheap denture dentist doesn’t want to hear it. They’ve already given you the limited amount of time they have budgeted in for you, and any more will mean losing money. If you pay attention to the news, there’s a slow but steady stream of stories where cheap denture dentists just cut off patients whose dentures they can’t make fit properly.
A Pleasant and Welcoming Environment
And let’s not forget that your denture fee also pays the salaries of all the assistants and technicians in the office. (That is, until we perfect our robotic dental assistant. We’re trying to work the glitches out.) This is another place where a dentist can cut corners to give you the best price on your dentures.
I’m sure you’ve been in a dental practice where there’s that one harried assistant who runs around the office doing everything from answering phones and taking insurance information to leading you back to the operatory and maybe even getting tools ready or helping take impressions. (And, probably, checking the job listings on their smartphone in every spare moment.)
You might pay a little more to help ensure that there’s enough staff in the office to do all the jobs that need to be done, but there are clear benefits for you, too. Dental visits can be stressful, we know, and they’re even more stressful when you’re “greeted” by someone on their last frayed nerve. There’s also a lot more room for mistakes, both in the operatory and in the office when too few people are trying to do too much work. And when a dental office is short staffed, you pay for it with your time as they make you wait while they try to handle their 16 other jobs before they can get to you.
Quality Dentures Are Worth It
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for when it comes to dentures. If you pay for cheap dentures, they will look cheap, feel uncomfortable, and you’ll likely have a poor experience getting them made. They may never fit right, and they may never work right, and, really, any price is too much to pay for dentures like that. Cheap dentures are the ones that are truly expensive, while quality dentures are a great investment.