Case Selection for Sunflex Flexible Partial Dentures
Sunflex Partial Dentures are virtually unbreakable, metal-free, monomer-free nylon thermoplastic restorations that can be used in a wide selection of partially edentulous patients. There are a few factors which need to be considered when treatment planning for Sunflex cases as with all restorative materials (Figure 1).
The patient needs adequate tooth and ridge support to achieve maximum retention and support for a flexible partial denture. The number of remaining teeth and the geometry of the edentulous ridges are major factors in the long-term success of the case. Patients who have less than six anterior teeth and no posteriors should be considered for another material, such as a conventional denture with Cusil gaskets surrounding the remaining teeth. This will provide better stability and retention for long-term success (Figure 2).
Patients who have bilateral molar support or well-defined ridges with at least one molar make the best candidates for a Sunflex (or any other flexible material) case. Patients who present with flat ridges but with bilateral molars also experience excellent success with Sunflex Partials. Patients who have few remaining teeth especially limited to anteriors or who have long extensions to restore are indicative of patients who benefit for combination cases using a cast frame with Sunflex flexible clasps in the esthetic zone. This will provide much better lateral stability for the partial than one made completely of flexible material (Figure 3 and Figure 4).
As with all partial dentures, an occlusal rest preparation is an intricate part of the design and provides stability and comfort not experienced with flexible partials that do not include a rest. Patients often complain about pain or excessive pressure on the edentulous ridge during mastication when a flexible partial is constructed without occlusal rests for support.
The selection of proper tissue shade for Sunflex, although not critical to the functional success of the case, is paramount in fulfilling the esthetic demands of today’s patients. Sunflex is available in five tissue shades and a shade guide is provided for use in the operatory. Sunflex shades include two pink, two meharry, and a clear, which is great when used for anterior clasps because it virtually disappears in the mouth. The performance and flexibility of the material is not affected by the different shades (Figure 5).
Sunflex can be repaired, rebased, and added to; however, these are all laboratory procedures. Because of the nature of nylon materials, no other material (ie, acrylics, etc) can be used to repair or reline Sunflex. Because of this limitation, we discourage full denture fabrication using Sunflex. Any adjustments or relines on full Sunflex dentures require that the patient give up the denture for several days while it is in the laboratory for modification.
Following proper instructions, there should be little or no adjustment necessary after delivering a Sunflex partial. The appliance should be soaked in the hottest tap water available (about 120° F) for 2 minutes before initial insertion. After cooling to a tolerable temperature, placement of the Sunflex will result in virtual molding to the patient’s mouth with only minor adjustment, if any.
Extended exposure to temperatures above normally available tap water can cause distortion in the appliance, rendering it unusable. Patients should not be instructed to use a hot water bath at home. There is no chance of distortion while eating or drinking hot liquids, because a 2-minute exposure to high temperatures is necessary to cause softening of the material.
If a patient complains of a clasp being too loose or too tight after a period of time, adjustment can be made by immersing that clasp only in hot tap water for 45 seconds and compressing it between the forefinger and thumb. A quick blast with cold water will set the clasp to the new position. Should any further adjustment be required, use of the Sunflex adjusting kit will result in smooth cuts and leave no shreds or strings to clean up.
With proper case selection and design, Sunflex will provide your patients with a comfortable, esthetic, and, most importantly, fully functional appliance which is guaranteed for life against breakage.
This article was written by Paul DiCicco, CDT.
For more information, contact:
Sun Dental Labs
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