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The Joy of Dentures

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Intrigued or mildly irritated, I wonder? Does the very title of this piece of writing annoy you? Let me be transparent, that was the intent. I’m hoping that by raising your hackles, I might engage you to read it at least.

Human spirit. Intertwined like cables left stuffed within your computer backpack, the spirit of mankind is present when both wearing and creating these cyborgian pink and white essential accessories; dentures. A simple top-line view is that these full or partial fang facsimiles are but crude, uncomfortable and potentially morbid plastic items, to be worn with the constant fear of loss, swallow or droop, and often chucked into a pocket or handbag, to be flicked nonchalantly into the mouth for photos and the like.

I accept this oft vocalised predication. As a dentist for a quarter of a century, I have witnessed, and indeed, provided, dentures that were acrylic voodoo dolls of the spawn of the devil, that fitted where they touched, and rubbed where they fitted. That resembled Shergar reborn, whilst allowing inflected intonations, nay, accents seldom heard except perhaps, in the drunk pen of a city jail after a payday Saturday night.

But, let us open our minds, let us reflect upon the patients innumerable, who wear dentures surely proffered to them by busy ward sisters reaching into the “bag of spares” common to most large hospitals. Who wear these ill-fitting items not only with ease of mind, but with actual panache, chewing tough meat like cows in the meadow whilst ruminating on affairs of the day, not the incredible number of masticatory movements required for the bolus to slide down the hatch. Surely this is an everyday example of the tenaciousness and adaptability of us humans? Surely the way that we can accommodate flanges of crude acrylic within the tender tissues of our facial orifices, speaks volumes, albeit unintelligibly, about why we are not still cave dwelling hunter gatherers of the Palaeolithic?

From the Etruscans of the seventh century BC, with their allografted or xenografted teeth, linked up by finest gold, past the Japanese of the sixteenth century, with their wooden dentures and lost wax techniques, us humans have used ingenuity, displayed tenaciousness obstinately, made do winningly, whilst grinning and baring it, daily.

And so, to the artists.

Richard Greenlees is too cool for school. This Christchurch New Zealand based savant of reality, his signature “oral lift” harnessing plus recreating the oral architecture whilst his artistic eye sees the person within, creates works of art in denture form. It is true to say that the cult of Greenlees exists within the uppermost echelons of dental technicians, or his preferred title; oral architects.

Our British dream team; Finlay Sutton, with his technician, Rowan Garstang. This Northern England based site of special denturetastic interest, provides patients with almost breath-taking prosthetic results, predicated on the sound basis of skilled prosthodontics, exceptional attention to detail, the inspiration of the mentorship of the absolute daddy, Dr John Besford, and finally, the craft of making something right.

So, to close.  As our aging population looks to us as their potential saviours, as their coffers don’t stretch or their health doesn’t agree to full arch implants, as our minds turn to the alginate, to the special tray and composition, let us remember the craftsmen within us, let us open up the joy of dentures.

Author: Dominic O'Hooley 

Posted by Gemma

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