What kind of maintenance might be needed on a denture?

1. Denture Relines

What are they and why do you need one?

A denture reline is when a new permanent lining is processed on to an existing denture to restore its original secure fit to your gums.

The reason why your dentures gradually lose their fit over time is because of inevitable changes in your mouth due to aging, changing health status, weight loss or normal wearing away of the denture surfaces.

Why is it important to keep your dentures fitting well?

Lots of reasons! When spaces develop between your gums and the denture surface food particles can get trapped which is uncomfortable and frustrating to manage. The denture also becomes unstable and can ‘rock’ causing soreness and increasing the chances of cracking and breaking thereby shortening the life of your denture. Lastly a poorly fitting denture can damage existing natural teeth and your gums potentially speeding up tooth loss and bone resorption.

Bear in mind however that not all dentures are suitable for relines. While acrylic partial dentures and acrylic full dentures can be relined, flexible dentures cannot. And only the acrylic section of the metal/chrome denture can be relined meaning that if the metal base no longer fits you usually need to be replace the whole denture.

When will I know I need a reline?

It is usually recommended that dentures are relined every 2 -3 years depending on individual circumstances.

Common signs that a denture needs relining can be food getting stuck in gaps around your gums and palate, rubbing and soreness or your denture feeling insecure or dislodging easily when eating or talking. However, while denture relines are a very effective way to prolong the comfort, fit and function of your denture no removable dental prosthetic lasts for ever. Dentures, even well-maintained ones, should be fully replaced approximately every 10 -12 years.

Are there different types of denture relines?

There are three types of reline that will depend on your particular needs.

  1. Hard denture reline
    Ideally, a full denture should have a hard reline every two to four years though under some circumstances we may recommend one earlier. This is part of the regular maintenance to ensure the optimal life span of your denture. When having a hard reline done an impression is taken using your dentures with a specific material which shows where the fit needs to be rebuilt. This material is then replaced with a new layer of acrylic restoring the denture to its original dimensions.
  2. Temporary denture reline
    If your gums have become sore and inflamed over time, we may recommend a temporary denture reline. Neglecting to have regular denture relines can often be the cause of this deterioration so please take advantage of our free follow up service to avoid these kinds of issues arising. This procedure relines the denture with a medicated material as a temporary measure until the gums have healed. Then, either a hard reline can be done, or new dentures made. Because the temporary reline is not heat cured like hard relines, they can become discoloured or porous, harbouring bacteria and leading to problems like halitosis or bad breath which is why we will make an appointment in 2 -3 weeks time to assess how the treatment is working and advise you on the next step.
  3. Soft denture reline
    A soft denture reline is recommended if your gums are tender or sensitive and you are unable to wear your dentures comfortably. A soft reline is particularly indicated if you keep developing sore spots or worse, ulcers. This can occur at any time, even if you have been wearing your dentures for years with no difficulty. The soft rubbery material used in a soft reline cushions your gums and usually enables you to tolerate your denture again and get your function back. Soft denture relines can last up to two years but often need to be replaced more frequently as they are more easily broken down by saliva and everyday use.
What is involved in the process of having a reline done?

Most relines can be done in a day.

Firstly, you will attend an early morning appointment where impressions will be taken of your mouth and denture. The dentures are then left with us until later that same day while the new surface is processed. At your afternoon appointment the newly surfaced denture will be fitted, and the bite checked. We will then see you in a week or so to make sure no new sore spots have arisen now that the denture is fitting tightly again.

2. Repairs

Modern dentures are made from very technologically advanced materials, but they are not unbreakable or immune to wear and tear or the impact of aging on the oral cavity. And it is usually when you have a big meeting, job interview or special date when it happens. That is why, wherever possible, we do repairs in a day so you can get on with your busy life.

The most common kinds of damage that occur to dentures are:

  • loss or fracture of a tooth or multiple teeth
  • fracture of the denture base or complete break into two or more pieces
  • small chip off the “wing” or side flange
  • fracture of the denture base with part of the denture missing
  • scrapes on the plastic which if left unattended can cause gum/mouth damage

The good news is that most breakages can be repaired unless of course your doggie has had a good chew, or you have run your denture over in your car (both scenarios happen – a lot!)

However different types of damage do have different costs that reflect the ease of repair. Be wary of home denture repair kits that claim you can fix your denture at home for a fraction of the cost.

They have their limitations:

  • An incorrect repair can cause tissue damage in the mouth.
  • Complex repairs are virtually impossible with do-it-yourself kits.
  • The plastic material used to repair the denture, if mixed improperly, will cause an early repair failure.
  • If done incorrectly it may cause further denture damage, increasing the cost of professional repair.
  • If your denture broke because it was not fitting properly then it will most likely break
    again soon after the repair. This is why we do a full assessment of your denture at the time of repair to determine why it broke.
  • They cannot be used when part of the denture is missing. Also NEVER use super glue to repair your denture please. It is toxic, doesn’t last and makes repairing your denture properly far more difficult and costly.

If your denture cannot be repaired, you may have to be fitted with a new denture. ☹

3. Tooth additions

A tooth addition simply describes the process of adding a single tooth or more to an existing partial denture. Like the rest of your body, the mouth is subject to aging, daily wear and tear as well as unforeseen accidents and illness. All these factors can lead to further tooth loss which can be distressing. However, the good news is that this does not necessarily mean that you need to invest in a whole new denture as most existing dentures can be added to successfully.

The loss of one or more teeth leaves a gap in your dentition that can affect your appearance, your ability to eat and speak effectively and the fit and function of your denture. The remaining teeth can also drift out of position as teeth are like books on a bookcase – when they are not stacked properly, they fall over. This can disturb the bite load which can speed up the loss of further teeth and make your denture even less effective.

So, the takeaway message is – keeping a full set of teeth is important! How long does it take to do a tooth addition? The short answer is a tooth addition can be achieved within the space of one day usually after 2-4 weeks of healing. A tooth addition takes two 20 minute appointments, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so you’re without your denture for the least possible time.

At the first appointment, an impression is taken of your mouth with your denture in place and then, in consultation with you, the tooth shade and shape chosen. You will be without your denture during the day while the tooth is added. In the afternoon the denture is fitted with the new tooth/teeth added and the bite checked.

Immediate additions

Sometimes it is appropriate to add the tooth/teeth to a denture prior to the extractions being done. This is called an immediate addition where the denture is modified beforehand, following a similar process as above, so the dentist can fit it at the time of the extraction.

The advantage of this method is that the denture assists with the healing process by acting like a ‘bandaid’ over the extraction site and you have no healing time with missing teeth. Not having a period of missing teeth can be especially pertinent if you are having front teeth extracted that are visibly in your smile line. Having the tooth to be extracted added first is also a consideration if it is a ‘clasped’ tooth that is holding the existing denture in place and its removal will destabilise the denture. In this situation it can be advantageous to add the tooth and move the clasp accordingly.

The disadvantage is that there will be shrinkage of the gum over time and the additional cost of relining under the extraction site a few months down the track must be factored in. If this is what you and your dentist thinks is the best treatment option, then we coordinate with your dentist to add the tooth as close to the extraction appointment as possible even on the same day.

Like anything, it can be a daunting prospect to decide how to move forward with your dental health. Our Senior Prosthetist is only too happy to discuss, explain and fully quote all the options with you and help you decide the best path forward depending on your individual circumstances. Remember all our consultations are no cost no obligation so be informed.

4. Clean and polish

Just like natural teeth, regardless of your oral hygiene routine, dentures are susceptible to plaque and tartar build up, staining and discolouration. Over time this is difficult to remove with standard home cleaning methods. Leave your denture with us for a couple of hours and we will get it looking like new again in using our ultrasonic cleaner and polisher. Removable partial or full dentures require proper care to keep them clean, free from stains and looking their best.

For good denture care:

  • Remove and rinse dentures after eating.
  • Handle your dentures carefully. Be sure you don’t bend or damage the plastic or the clasps when cleaning or drop them – dentures do not like hard bathroom floors!
  • Clean your mouth after removing your dentures. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush on natural teeth and gauze or a soft toothbrush to clean your tongue, cheeks and roof of your mouth (palate).
  • Remove and gently clean your dentures daily. Soak and brush them with a soft-bristled brush and nonabrasive denture cleanser to remove food, plaque and other deposits.
  • Soak dentures overnight with a denture cleaner once or twice a week.
  • Schedule regular denture checkups to ensure that your dentures stay clean and fit well.
  • You should avoid: abrasive cleaning materials, stiff-bristled brushes, strong cleansers and any toothpaste meant for natural teeth.

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