Is there such a thing as a non-toxic denture? This is one of the most common questions we are asked at denturedetox.com.
The toxicity of everyday consumer products is of concern to a growing number of people. From bisphenol-A (BPA) in canned goods and water bottles, to phthalates in children’s toys, to cadmium in jewelry, exposure to toxins and allergens is widespread. So widespread, in fact, that those three substances just mentioned have also been found to leach from resin-based dental materials (cadmium and phthalates can leach from dentures and bisphenol-A from restorative materials).
Some consumer products containing such substances have been recalled, and there is now increased demand for products that are free from toxins. As a result, alternative products have entered the marketplace which sometimes bear the term “non-toxic” indicating the product does not contain some particular controversial toxin. However, it is important to note that the phrase “non-toxic” is often simply a marketing term. Much like the phrase “all natural,” its meaning is not specific. (Another such phrase is “chemical-free” – an absurd phrase, considering that all matter is made up of chemicals.) The term “non-toxic” is often over-used, often on products that are merely free from the latest substance under media scrutiny. So-called non-toxic products are not necessarily as safe or healthy as marketers would like us to believe. Sometimes products can contain other toxic substances that merely have yet to be deemed unsafe.
Amidst all this, people may find themselves asking which consumer products are truly non-toxic, and in our particular case, which dentures are non-toxic. The answer depends on the material that a product is made of and the way that it behaves. In the case of consumer goods, one of the most common materials is plastic. There are a wide variety of plastics and some are safer than others.
Dentures are most commonly made of acrylic resin, a material in the plastics family. The chemical makeup of plastics that allows them to be malleable and flexible is, unfortunately, at the heart of why plastics aren’t so ideal. Plastics are not as biologically compatible as we’d like them to be. They degrade; it is in their nature to do so. As plastics degrade, they release substances. Aside from pollution from plastics factories, exposure to the toxins in plastics results from the plastic’s ability to release substances. The CDC found bisphenol A in the urine of 95% of adults sampled in 1988–1994. Eating food and soup that comes in aluminum cans (due to the BPA in the liner in the can) is an often-cited culprit.
Similarly, denture acrylics contain substances that are toxic and allergenic, and those substances are known to leach out of dentures and into the mouth.
It stands to reason that, upon learning this, denture wearers would want to seek out dentures that are non-toxic. So we ask, does such a thing exist?
A truly non-toxic product, to be worthy of the name, would ideally contain no toxic materials. Or, barring that, any toxic materials inside it would not be able to seep out, leach out, elute, or disperse; and no toxic substances would be able to be ingested or absorbed by the human body. While plenty of plastic-based consumer goods may be marketed as non-toxic, it could well be argued that, given the capacity that plastics have to leach their substances, no plastic-based product should be called non-toxic.
When talking about plastics, the word “non-toxic” should be considered a colloquial phrase and not a scientific term denoting total absence of toxic material.
This is not a statement you’ll hear from major consumer brands. Major brands have a vested interest in making the public believe their products are completely safe. Yet new studies continue to come out showing the adverse effects of substances like BPA; a 2014 study showed that BPA has the ability to raise blood pressure within a few hours.
“Non-toxic” is such an easy catch-all term that we, too, were tempted to use it to describe our services. But our company was founded specifically to rectify a number of problems in the industry, so we didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. Similarly, patients’ informed consent is incredibly important to us. For these reasons we refrain from referring to any dentures as “non-toxic” in any formal, official, or scientific context. When talking about plastics, the word “non-toxic” should be considered a colloquial phrase and not a scientific term denoting total absence of toxic material.
The most common denture base material, and what we also used when we crafted new dentures, is polymethyl methacrylate or PMMA. As an acrylic resin, it has the ability to leach some of its toxic and allergenic substances, so we are inclined to argue that the term “non-toxic” should not be used to describe this material (the material is also marketed as Lucite and “acrylic glass” and is commonly called non-toxic by manufacturers).
Are there other materials that dentures can be made with? Technically, yes, but alternative materials do not have the same strength and functionality properties and thus are generally reserved only for patients who are clinically allergic to methacrylates. Though there are some concerns regarding its biocompatibility, PMMA remains the most appropriate material for denture bases.
If you suspect you have an allergy to methacrylates, discuss it with your dentist or doctor. While other denture base materials are less ideal from a structural standpoint, alternative materials are available that may meet your needs.
Pure Cure Dental Technology is the creator of Denture Detox, the first product to help remove toxins and allergens from dentures, and the author of the Free Report on Denture Toxicity. We invite any questions you may have about dentures, the issue of denture toxicity, or denture health in general.
By Melissa Mesku