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Most of us have grown up understanding why maintaining dental hygiene is important. However, not too many decades ago, people did not know about proper brushing and flossing techniques, nor did they have the access to sound dental check-ups and fluoride treatments. The result was people with rotted and diseased teeth that eventually just fell out of their mouths. The solution to these toothless wonders was dentures - removable prosthetic teeth. Denturists are dental health professionals who specialize in the field of removable oral dentures.

Denturists assess, design, fabricate, repair and insert both complete and removable partial dentures. They examine patients and design, construct and repair dentures. Denturists work with complex dental instruments and machinery. They use a variety of materials during the process of constructing dentures, including waxes, gypsum materials, metals, plastics, porcelains, chemical solutions, and impression materials. Denturists also construct partial dentures, which are removable appliances that replace missing natural teeth.

When you first see a denturist, they perform a complete visual/digital oral examination and evaluation of the patient, which includes obtaining a complete medical and dental history of the patient. Next, the denturist takes a preliminary impression of a patient's gums and then a final impression to increase the accuracy of the fit and shape of the new denture. They also make the necessary jaw relation records in this stage.

The "bite" or "measuring appointment" comes next. The denturist uses wax denture bases to find the relationship between the upper and lower gums. There are several bite techniques available to denture wearers and some provide more precision than others. Then patients go for the try-in appointment, consisting of a band of wax on which the denturist arranges and rearranges artificial teeth until the most aesthetically appealing look is achieved. This appointment is of great importance - it is the patient's chance to discuss their likes or dislikes with the way the denturist has set their new teeth before it is finished in hard denture acrylic.

It is important to be honest with the denturist at this point because a patient should be satisfied and happy with the look of the dentures. Denturists listen very closely to their patients and do all the construction themselves in order to deliver a personalized prosthesis that is perfectly adapted to a patient's mouth and appearance. From the first impression to the final adjustment, a denturist relies on the patient's comments and his or her own expertise to make the perfect set of dentures.

The final phase is when the patient actually has the new dentures inserted. Usually, new dentures will take a bit of getting used to and may cause a bit of soreness, which is very common. In a few days, the pain subsides. Also, they may perform any adjunctive services such as repairing, relining or adjusting removable dentures. A denturist will also teach you how to best to care for your dentures, including proper cleaning techniques and adjustment scheduling.
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  Interests and Skills  
Denturists need the ability to concentrate and focus on their work at hand. They have good manual dexterity for working with equipment and instruments, and show a great level of patience, as the majority of their clientele is elderly. They possess excellent communication skills, particularly listening skills, and they enjoy taking a methodical approach to diagnosing problems. They are good at analyzing information and experimenting with denture designs, and doing precise work with tools and equipment.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with clients, diagnose denture problems and formulate treatment plans
  • Measure patients' jaws to determine size and shape of dentures required
  • Make impressions of patients' teeth, gums and jaws
  • Perform the intra-oral (in mouth) procedures and laboratory procedures required to design both complete and removable partial dentures
  • Construct dentures or direct other workers to construct dentures
  • Fit and modify new dentures comfortably in patient's mouths
  • Repair, reline and rebase dentures
  • Construct dentures or direct other workers to construct dentures
  • Fabricate mouth protectors, anti-snoring prostheses and removable prostheses on implants
  • May prepare partial dentures
  • Denturists work in denture clinics and associated laboratories (which are usually on the same premises). They work standard office hours, but may put in longer hours, particularly if they are self-employed. Medium lifting (up to 65 pounds) may be required.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • The majority of denturists work in private practices. Otherwise, people in this group work in government, public health, community care, dentists' offices and other health practices, clinics, dental laboratories, denture clinics, educational institutions, hospitals, dental hygiene clinics and mobile services.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Upon certification, denturists have the choice of continuing to work for an employer or operating their own denture clinic. Career possibilities outside of denture private practice include working as dental educators, researchers, administrators, or sales representatives for dental supply companies. Some may also decide to move into more creative or artistic positions. Many denturists also move into specialty areas, such as cosmetic dentistry or become surgeons.

  Educational Paths  
The academic requirements for becoming a denturist requires the completion of a two- or three-year college program in denturist technology. Once graduated, an apprenticeship in a registered denture clinic is usually required. Most regions require licensure.

Student denturists study for a minimum of three years, focusing on the clinical and laboratory skills necessary to supply removable oral prostheses. Denturists are thoroughly educated in the theoretical and practical aspects of both intra-oral and laboratory procedures.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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