The Scoop On Costume Teeth

Have you ever wondered who makes the costume teeth for Hollywood?  A company called Fangsfx on the outskirts of London England and specifically a dental technician named Chris Lyons.  You can look at his Instagram to see all of the credits of the stars that he had worked with.

Fangs and prosthetics used for Hollywood movies

So, how are these amazing prosthetic teeth made?

There is a lot of imagination and artwork that goes into making any cinematic prosthetic teeth, but they all start with making an impression of the person’s mouth and teeth.  The most common impression product used is called Alginate.  Alginate is an elastic, irreversible hydrocolloid material made of brown algae mixed with potassium, calcium, zinc, diatomaceous earth, trisodium phosphate and agents to add color and flavor.  When the powder is mixed with water, it forms a gel that quickly stiffens into a rubbery solid that stays stable for about 30 min before starting to dry out and lose its accuracy.

Other impression materials, such as PolyVinyl Siloxane (PVS) and PolyEther, made from silicones in different viscosities, can also be used.  These impression materials are supplied in two tubes that mix together to start the solidification reaction.  There are four main advantages to using silicone impression material:

  1. They come in different viscosities that can be layered onto the teeth and can capture much greater detail than alginate.
  2. They keep their shape over time instead of alginate, which will dry out and shrink.
  3. They are stronger than alginate and will resist tearing when making an impression on the teeth.
  4. They can be used to make more than one model of the teeth, as opposed to alginate, which can only make one.

The impression material is mixed and placed in a special tray that is sized for the person’s mount and then seated over the teeth and allowed to set, creating a negative impression of the shape of the teeth. This model of the teeth is now used as a base for the desired costume teeth that will be inserted over them.  If the costume teeth need to be functional, then many times, an impression of the opposing arch is made as well as a “bite” record that records how the teeth come together. 

Another record that is sometimes needed is a “Facebow” record.  A facebow recorder is a specially made device that inserts into the person’s ears, which is a great landmark close to the hinge of the jaw, and on the bridge of the nose.  A bite plate is secured to the upper teeth with impression material and attached to the facebow with an adjustable locking device.  The whole goal of the facebow is to relate the person’s teeth to their face to record the facial midline and the horizontal line of the face.

The models are mounted onto a fake jaw called an “Articulator” that mimics the position of the teeth in the person’s face and allows the teeth to move just as the jaw naturally moves.  The position of the models on the articulator are compared to photographs of the person to ensure that they match.  Once all this is complete the artwork begins!

Clay or wax is used to form the desired costume teeth.  Carving tools are then used to shape the wax or clay into the final form.  Wonderful details can be added to the wax and clay.  Once the final form is achieved another impression of the model with wax is made with a silicone copy material that captures all the detail.  The silicone is very stable and allows for multiple forms of the costume teeth to be made.

The silicone mold is filled with acrylic resin, the same material that dentures are made of, and the original model of the person’s teeth is inserted into the silicone with acrylic.  Once the acrylic sets up the model is removed, and the acrylic is carefully separated from the model.

The material is then shaped and smoothed to ensure that is will insert on and off the persons teeth easily and stay in place.  Paints are then used to add color and life to the costume teeth and sealed with a protective clear layer.

The process is amazing and can result in some truly frightening sets of chompers! While Dr. Saydyk and the rest of our team here at Stoneridge Dental can’t craft you a set of spooky fangs, we can take excellent care of the teeth you’ve got! From preventative care to cosmetic enhancements and restorative work, you’re in good hands at our Gilbert dental office.

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