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Mon, Jan. 27

Making dentures is a time-consuming process

The Daily Courier photos/Jo. L. Keener<br>
Dr. Joel J. Nichols displays a set of dentures Thursday morning in his Prescott Valley office lab. Nichols is one of a very few dentists that make their own prosthetics.

The Daily Courier photos/Jo. L. Keener<br> Dr. Joel J. Nichols displays a set of dentures Thursday morning in his Prescott Valley office lab. Nichols is one of a very few dentists that make their own prosthetics.

PRESCOTT - For a variety of reason, some people replace their natural teeth with dentures.

At The Classic Smile in Prescott Valley, the husband and wife dental team of Dr. Laura Nichols and Dr. Joel Nichols strive to make dentures as natural and aesthetically perfect as possible.

While the majority of their practice is denture work, the doctors provide complete dental service and stress the importance of prevention.

"We never want to steer a patient toward dentures. Prevention is the key." Joel said.

The biggest problem that causes people to need dentures is disease. Joel said cavities and periodontal disease are serious problems.

"There comes a time when function is not working. There are aesthetic concerns. People with broken down teeth may have a difficult time finding a job. It becomes a quality of life matter," he said.

The doctors are involved in every step in creating a set of dentures. They make each set themselves.

Joel said the process starts with a panoramic X-ray for people already missing their teeth and individual X-rays for people with teeth.

He takes an alginate impression of the mouth and then pours a plaster mold. He uses a 'prosthodontic bite recorder' to align the bite.

"It is all about the bite," Joel said.

Using the plaster molds, he pours stone models and mounts them on an articulator.

It is now time to select the teeth. The Nichols get their teeth from Switzerland and Italy.

At this stage, the doctors bring the patient back in for "anterior try-in. We wax up the front six teeth and have the patient try them."

This is followed by a full try-in. The doctors check the bite and if it is OK, they remove the cast from the articulator and place it in a flask.

Joel said he fills the flask with three layers of stone. He places the flask in an 85-degree Celsius water bath to melt the wax.

Carefully cracking the flask open, Joel reveals a positive and negative impression of the new dentures. He cleans the teeth and puts the flask back together.

Joel injects acrylic into the mold at 80 pounds per square inch. He lets the acrylic cure for 30 minutes. A plunger holds the flask together throughout the entire process at 80 psi.

The doctor moves the flask to a processor where it stays in a water bath over night.

After removing the dentures from the flask, Joel literally "breaks the mold" to remove the denture from the stone.

"I like to score the back of the case before removing it to reduce distortion," he said.

It is the next step that gives dentures a natural look. Joel said he cleans the dentures and then shapes the teeth and gum lines for a realistic appearance.

The doctor is now ready to deliver the dentures to the patient "with a lot of instructions. We schedule two post-insertion appointments - one in two days and another in two weeks. We also give them a long list of instructions."

Successfully wearing dentures is "30 percent technical and 70 percent the patient. Some people cannot wear dentures," Joel said.

Drs. Laura and Joel Nichols are among a handful of dentists that do their own dental lab work. In addition making new dentures, they do repairs and realignments. They also make crowns, bridges and partials.

Joel said that in addition to high-quality teeth, he uses resin, high-density resin, composite and porcelain to create dental products.

Joel changed the name of the practice from Denture Resources to the Smile Center "to protect the privacy of our patients. Some people do not what their family to know they have dentures."

The Smile Center is located at 8196 E. Florentine Road, Ste. A in Prescott Valley. The telephone number is 775-5400.

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