Understanding Loose Dentures: Causes, Maintenance, and Modern Alternatives
Dentures have been a popular choice for people with missing teeth, providing a way to restore both function and aesthetics to their smiles. However, one common issue that denture wearers may encounter is the loosening of their prosthetic teeth (aka loose dentures).
What is a Denture?
A denture is a removable dental appliance (prosthesis) that replaces missing teeth and surrounding gum tissues. It typically consists of prosthetic teeth in a gum-coloured acrylic plastic or metal base. Dentures can be full (replacing all teeth) or partial dentures (replacing only some teeth), offering a customisable solution for various degrees of tooth loss. It is removable, easy to clean and held in place through good design (uses natural suction) or with a special paste or glue.
Materials Used in Denture Construction
Dentures are commonly made from acrylic resin or a combination of acrylic and metal. Acrylic dentures are lightweight and more affordable, while metal-based prosthesis are more robust and more durable. Advances in dental technology have also introduced flexible denture materials that offer improved comfort and a more natural appearance.
How Long Can Dentures Last?
The lifespan of the prosthesis can vary depending on factors such as the materials’ quality, the wearer’s oral hygiene practices, and the frequency of professional maintenance. On average, a prosthesis may last between 5 to 8 years. However, they may need adjustments or relining during this time to accommodate changes in the oral cavity.
Causes of Denture Looseness
Several factors can contribute to dentures becoming loose over time. One primary reason is changes in the jawbone and gum tissue itself. Tooth loss will lead to bone resorption, causing the jaw and oral tissue to shrink gradually. This changes the facial and oral anatomy, which results in an ill-fitting denture. Natural wear and tear, poor oral hygiene, and inadequate denture maintenance can also contribute to looseness.
Importance of Regular Denture Relining
My dentures are loose! Denture relining is a crucial aspect of maintaining the stability and comfort of prosthesis. Over time, the jawbone and gum tissues undergo changes (bone shrinkage), and patients find themselves with loose fitting dentures. Regular relining helps adjust the prosthesis to these alterations. Typically, denture wearers are advised to have their prosthetics checked and potentially relined every two years to ensure a snug fit and prevent discomfort or oral or dental health issues.
My Dentures Are Loose?
Achieving a better fit for dentures is crucial for comfort, functionality, and overall satisfaction with the prosthetic. If you’re experiencing issues with the fit of your dentures, here are some steps you can take to improve their comfort and stability:
Consult Your Dentist
Regular Dental Check-ups
Schedule regular check-ups with your dentists, as changes in your jawbone or oral tissues over time may necessitate adjustments to your dentures. They will also monitor your natural teeth, mouth sores and everyday wear.
Use denture adhesive sparingly and only as directed. While denture adhesive can improve stability, excessive use may indicate an ill-fitting denture that needs professional adjustment at a denture clinic.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Clean your dentures daily to prevent irritation and maintain oral health. For good denture care, use a soft-bristle brush or a denture brush and mild denture cleaner. Avoid abrasive toothpaste on your denture, as it can damage the denture material.
Handle Your Denture with Care
Handle your denture/s over a soft surface, like a folded towel, to prevent breakage in case they are dropped. Avoid using excessive force when removing or inserting them.
Adjust Your Diet
Initially, eat less solid or chewy foods, stick to softer foods and gradually reintroduce a normal diet. Chewing on both sides of the mouth can help distribute pressure evenly.
Over-the-counter denture reliners can provide a temporary solution by adding a cushioning layer to the denture base. However, these are not a substitute for professional adjustments and should be used under the guidance of a dentist.
Denture Pads or Cushions
Denture pads or cushions can be placed on the prosthesis surface to improve comfort. These are available over-the-counter and can be a temporary solution while waiting for a professional adjustment.
Avoid DIY Adjustments
Refrain from attempting to adjust your dentures at home. DIY adjustments can lead to irreparable damage. Always seek professional help for any issues with any loose dentures fit.
If your dentures feel loose or uncomfortable, it may be time for a denture reline. This involves adding material to the fitting surface of the prosthesis to improve its fit and reduce the gaps. The denture reline helps your prosthesis fit securely against your gums. Your dentist can determine if relining is necessary and perform the procedure accordingly.
Explore Implant-Supported Dentures
For a more permanent solution, consider implant-supported dentures. Dental implants provide a stable foundation of support, and the dentures (overdenture) can be securely attached to the implants, offering improved stability and comfort. Overdentures offer the stability and the ability to eat all types of foods again, which is the most common reason a patient “ditches the denture”.
Common Issues with a Denture
Dentures, while providing an affordable solution for tooth replacement, can be subject to various issues or problems. It’s essential for denture wearers to be aware of these common issues and address them promptly to maintain oral health and comfort. Regular dental check-ups, proper maintenance, and addressing issues promptly can help denture wearers overcome these issues, ensuring a more comfortable and functional experience with their prosthetic teeth.
Here are some of the most common reasons for problems associated with dentures:
Cause: Changes in the jawbone over time can lead to an improper fit, causing dentures to become loose.
Solution: Regular adjustments, relining, or potentially replacing the dentures may be necessary to address looseness.
Discomfort and Sore Spots
Cause: Ill-fitting dentures can create pressure points, leading to discomfort and sore spots.
Solution: Professional adjustments by a dentist or prosthodontist to improve the fit and comfort of the dentures.
Difficulty Chewing and Speaking
Cause: Poorly fitted dentures can impact the ability to chew food effectively and may cause difficulty in speaking.
Solution: Proper adjustments and, if necessary, relining to enhance stability and functionality.
Gum and Tissue Irritation
Cause: Poorly maintained or irregularly cleaned dentures can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums and oral tissues.
Solution: Maintain good oral hygiene, clean dentures regularly, and ensure proper fit through professional adjustments.
Breakage or Fractures
Cause: Accidental drops or improper handling can result in prosthesis breakage or fractures.
Solution: Repair or replacement may be necessary for old dentures, depending on the extent of the damage. Avoid dropping dentures and handle them with care.
Staining and Discoloration
Cause: Poor cleaning habits, consumption of certain foods or beverages, and tobacco use can lead to staining or discolouration of dentures.
Solution: Regular cleaning using denture cleaners, avoiding stain-inducing substances, and professional cleaning when needed.
Cause: Following tooth loss, the jawbone may undergo resorption, altering the fit of dentures over an extended period of time.
Solution: Regular dental check-ups to monitor bone changes, with potential adjustments or relining of dentures.
Difficulty with Adhesives
Cause: Excessive use of denture adhesives may indicate an ill-fitting denture.
Solution: Professional evaluation to ensure the prosthesis fits properly, reducing the need for excessive adhesive use.
Cause: Adjusting to dentures may temporarily impact speech patterns.
Solution: Practice speaking with the dentures, and if issues persist, seek professional advice for adjustments.
Modern Alternatives: Dental Implants
While dentures have been a traditional, short-term solution for tooth replacement, dental implants represent a more modern and permanent alternative. Dental implants involve the surgical placement of titanium posts into the jawbone, providing a stable foundation for a new set of ceramic prosthetic teeth. This method offers superior stability, functionality, and aesthetics compared to traditional dentures. While the initial cost is higher, the long-term benefits and natural look and feel make dental implants an increasingly popular choice.
There are two different dental implant options – fixed and removable bridge options. A fixed arch (or All on 4) option is screwed to the dental implants and can only be removed by your Aria dentist or an Overdenture, which clips onto the dental implants offering additional strength and support compared to a traditional denture (no more loose dentures) and can be removed for easy cleaning (watch the video below).
How To Video: Cleaning Dentures and Overdentures
Have Loose Dentures? Aria can help.
Remember, the key to achieving a better fit is open communication with your Aria dentist. They have the expertise to assess your situation, recommend appropriate solutions, and ensure that your new dental prosthesis is tailored to your unique oral anatomy.
Understanding the causes and solutions for loose dentures is crucial for individuals seeking effective tooth replacement options. Regular relining, proper maintenance, and awareness of modern alternatives like dental implants can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their oral health, overall well-being and long-term goals. At Aria, we offer free, no-obligation dental implant consultations with our Dental Specialist to allow patients to understand their options better.
Ultimately, whether choosing traditional dentures or exploring dental implant options, it is essential to work closely with your Aria Dental dentist to achieve the best possible outcome for your desired tooth replacement.