Like the Bach Cello Suite No 1 performed by his favourite cellist Mischa Maisky, the dentures made by Richard Greenlees, maestro at Lovebite, are a masterwork of harmony with the face and the nuance of character of their fortunate wearers.
Each set is a work of art; you cannot guess the dentures are not teeth, as grown and worn by the owner during their lifetime. “The last thing you’d ever want is a generic denture that goes across in a straight line,” (think Jim Carey in The Mask).
“It’s just so obvious,” Richard says.
With his artist’s eye, Richard understands that our mouths and the natural teeth they hold are a representation of the person inside, whom he takes time to know before beginning to create. A fisherman client recently consulted with Richard: the set of dentures resulting from that collaboration had a tooth missing to retain the integrity of that client’s identity!
Training at Otago University, in Christchurch and Wellington, Richard went on to study ceramics in Osaka, Japan. Mentors Jean and Peter Hyam were the catalyst to the young Richard, who went to work with the rich and famous in London from his Harley Street practice for 15 years and now works in New Zealand and internationally.
Richard also makes caps, crowns and bridges. He loves doing what he does. “I can change people’s lives for the better – it’s a craft and an art and also a science.”
When starting, Richard didn’t think there would be a need for dentures today. However, far from being a sunset industry, Richard is seeing people place a higher value on their health and wellbeing. His clients range from young people who haven’t looked after their teeth, to Baby Boomers who have let their teeth go as they aged, to older people with reduced bone mass affecting their natural teeth.
He works on a sliding fee scale for all the different options, ranging from entry level to the ‘Rolls Royce’ level of work.
The first consultation is face to face and is $150. There is a myriad of materials he can work in: acrylic, light cured composite, gold and porcelain. Choosing materials is a shared process which blends the goals of the client with Richard’s 40 years of experience.
His work takes time. “These are not like the dentures of old which could be churned out within the week.”
Four, even five visits are required to create the dentures, “more if you have selected the top of the line work”, and the dentures themselves take four to six weeks to create.
“It is an alchemy of materials making things work for a human body – it is a great thrill.”
Find Richard at www.lovebite.com.