Ester’s Story: Part II

Due to Ester’s dementia, it became difficult to get the most reliable impressions from her bite. It wasn’t that Ester didn’t want to cooperate with the process; it was just one of the difficulties she suffered with this debilitating disease.

I began to work on what material could be used to preserve this vital information for Ester so that she’d never have to go through the agony of this experience again. After many trials, we found a material that would allow for the comfort and proprioceptive information to be captured and stored without distortion. It also allowed us to remake Ester’s denture without having to break it apart, a key factor in disaster recovery for her should she ever lose the denture again.

We made her a new set of dentures and had her try them in for the initial fit. Checking to make sure we’ve got a comfortable fit and beautiful look for Ester’s face, she began to smile. Tears ran down her daughters cheeks. We had finally made it work; reproducing a comfortable feel that Ester was satisfied with.

“I really can’t believe it,” her daughter said to me.  “I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this.” Her daughter and I were now at a point where we knew that Ester’s suffering from lost dentures would never happen again.

I can say that without Ester’s initial problem of losing her dentures, I’d never given thought to coming up with a remedy for this type of dental crisis. The traditional stone method of making dentures was just how things had always been done.

Ester’s case began as a patient in total distress but ended up being my “Ah-ha” moment; most of us have experienced this after we’ve wrestled with a problem and then discover a better approach to solving it. Contributing this kind of advancement in dental technology for all dentists was not my original goal; however, I am proud to have done so. My inspiration was simply to solve a problem for a dear patient. To develop and share a simplified, precise and improved technique for making and storing vital denture information, improving the patient’s quality of life. This has been my most meaningful contribution to both my patients and my profession.


Ester’s Story: Part 1

Ester was the elderly mother of one of my dear patients. Her daughter vowed to maintain her mom’s dental health and brought her back to see me after her second set of dentures disappeared. Inadvertently, Ester had placed her dentures in a napkin on her food tray and they were gone. This is a common occurrence in most facilities and winds up leaving the patients with even bigger problems: inability to chew food, embarrassment about their appearance and even an inability to speak with confidence. Unfortunately the spiral continues downward with loss in weight, deterioration of health, self-worth and quality of life. This is especially true for patients experiencing progressive dementia as was Ester. Her daughter was frightened that this was going to be her mother’s fate.

Gone were the two previous sets of dentures. Now my challenge was to create a third pair for her from scratch, no blueprint to go by and very little patient cooperation due to Ethel’s dementia. I asked myself:

What If I could restore a comfortable denture for her?

A denture that could be blueprinted and stored in case she lost it again?

As you know, the process of making dentures hasn’t changed much over the past 100 + years. The old procedure demands you break the stone mold and in so doing the very important information regarding fit, comfort and proprioception is lost. If a denture is lost or broken, the old process requires a dentist to start from scratch. If only I had a way to save her personal blueprint, the comfortable fit she’d had and enjoyed for years.