Cobalt chrome vs. acrylic denture

Choosing between a cobalt chrome or acrylic denture is one of the many decisions patients need to make when considering a full or partial denture restoration. While acrylic pink bases and teeth give your teeth replacements a natural look, cobalt chrome provides discreet thinness and durability.

The choice between cobalt chrome and acrylic dentures often depends on factors such as durability, aesthetics, and individual patient needs. Each material has its own advantages, and the selection is often made based on a dentist’s recommendation and patient preferences.

Here are some differences to keep in mind:

Differences in construction

Most dentures consist of two parts – the base that sits against the gums, and the teeth that are fitted into the base. For acrylic dentures, the entire denture, including the pink base and the false teeth are seamlessly integrated into one complete piece. The acrylic is custom-shaped to the contours of the gums for a snug fit.

Unlike acrylic dentures, cobalt chrome dentures have a two-part construction. The framework, usually made of a thin cobalt chrome alloy, forms the base, while acrylic resin false teeth are attached to it. Cobalt chrome dentures are known for their strength and durability due to the metal framework. This makes them less prone to breakage compared to all-acrylic dentures.

Cobalt Chrome Denture Base Composition

Cobalt chrome metal is a mix of cobalt, chromium, nickel, and molybdenum. It offers:

  • High strength and durability to endure chewing forces without fracturing
  • Thin profile as minimal as 0.4 mm for a discreet fit
  • Lightweight for easy comfortable wearing
  • Does not easily corrode or degrade

For partials, cobalt chrome clasps strongly retain the denture base. In full denture bases cobalt chrome is exposed only under gum areas out of sight.

Pros and Cons of Cobalt Chrome Denture Bases

Advantages of cobalt chrome bases include:

  • Discreet Profile – The thin, strong metal hides comfortably inside the mouth with minimal palpable edges.
  • Durable – Resists chewing pressures and fracture over many years of use compared to plastics.
  • Easily Repaired – Cracks and fractures to the metal base are simpler to mend extending use life.
  • Good Stability – Rigid metal helps evenly distribute bite forces and stabilize the denture’s occlusion.

Disadvantages of cobalt chrome bases:                                                                       

  • Aesthetics – Grayish hue can “show through” thinner gums giving an unappealing effect.
  • Cost – More expensive than simple acrylic dentures.
  • Metallic Taste – Low levels of metal diffusion into saliva give a chemical taste for some.

Acrylic Denture Composition

Acrylic dentures can be made from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or flexible, injection-molded nylon thermoplastic resins. PMMA offers:

  • Range of natural gum hues
  • Integrated acrylic base and teeth
  • No metallic taste
  • Bio-friendly without metal sensitivity risks

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Denture Bases

Advantages of all acrylic dentures:

  • Natural Aesthetics – Pink resin base perfectly matches color of gums without “show through”.
  • Lower Cost – Less expensive option compared to metals.
  • Lightweight – Comfortable for long term wearing without metal’s added weight.
  • Simple Construction – Full or partial bases require no additional strengthening components.

Disadvantages include:

  • Less Durable – Prone to fractures, cracks and warping over 5-10 years of use from chewing stress.
  • Difficult Repairs – Requiring more extensive remakes when damaged instead of simple metal soldering.
  • Poorer Stability – Flexing acrylic can distort shape leading to fit, comfort and chewing issues over time.

Denture Pricing Impacts 

While versatile for clinical use, higher material and production costs make cobalt chrome dentures run $600 – $1500 more per arch versus all acrylic. For those with thin or highly visible gum areas prone to show through, or who prefer the durability and rigidity of metal, added cost may be warranted. Patients not wanting metal in their mouths or with adequate gum thickness may do fine with quality acrylics for less.

Factors that Increase Denture Costs

  • More visits for adjustments and relines
  • Premium tooth molds and characterization
  • Gold, platinum, or precision attachments
  • Full palate instead of horseshoe partial design
  • Implant use for added stability and retention

Key Considerations in Choosing Denture Materials

Neither option is inherently perfect or flawed. Assessing variables case-by-case finds what optimizes fit, function and affordability based on:

Biocompatibility

Acrylic is generally biocompatible, but some individuals may be sensitive to certain acrylic materials. Cobalt chrome, being a metal alloy, is also biocompatible but may pose issues for those with metal allergies.

Aesthetics

Acrylic dentures often have a more natural appearance due to the seamless integration of teeth and base. Cobalt chrome dentures, while offering strength, may have a visible metal framework.

Adjustability

Acrylic dentures are usually more easily adjusted and repaired chairside by a dentist. Adjusting cobalt chrome dentures may require the expertise of a dental laboratory.

Individual Factors

  • Gum thickness and undercut need for retention
  • Location and extent of tooth loss
  • Shade match for seamless aesthetics
  • Prior problems with denture slipping or comfort
  • Jaw anatomy and properties of residual ridge
  • Any known metal or acrylic allergies

Balancing these factors with cost determines ideal materials. For instance, those with thin gums prone to show through may benefit from metal bases despite increased cost. Discuss denture material options thoroughly with your dentist when planning treatment.

Ask Your Dentist about Modern Denture Optimization

Today’s dentures balance dental technology with the artistry and personalization of your mouth’s uniqueness. Planning decisions around optimal materials, tooth molds, retention and stability lead to successful same day denture delivery with quick adaptation. Combining both metal and acrylic elements can blend advantages where helpful per case.

Discussing material options openly leads to dentures with natural form, function and aesthetics. Ask also about precision attachments for added stability and using dental implants with overdentures. A winning smile awaits those investing thoughtfully in which denture compositions and components best meet their needs.

Authors

  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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