Dentures are a plastic dental appliance worn to replace missing teeth. Partial dentures replace a few teeth and are worn attached to existing teeth. Complete dentures are made in pairs, upper and lower, and are worn when all teeth are missing. Improvements in the design and manufacturer of dentures have resulted in a more natural and comfortable product. You should not experience pain when wearing your dentures; however, pain and other conditions of the mouth can result from new, damaged or poorly fitting dentures.
Return to your dentist to have your new dentures adjusted. After removal of your teeth, your gums and bones continue to shrink and change as they heal. Dentures are fitted over a period of one to two months before you receive them and might need adjustments after your start to wear them. Immediate dentures, which often are worn until permanent dentures are completed, might require a few adjustments as healing of your gums progresses.
Ask your dentist about relining your new dentures. Once your gums heal and you receive your permanent dentures, changes in your gums and bones might require relining of your dentures to correct the fit. Your immediate dentures also might require relining as your gums heal and change. A hard denture reline uses an acrylic material, while a soft denture reline uses a softer, more flexible material for tender gums.
Take your older dentures to your dentist for examination. On average, dentures last 5 to 7 years. Slipping and clicking of your dentures and gum irritation could indicate a poor fit. Your gums and bones shrink with age, gum ridges recede and the alignment of your jaws changes. Loose-fitting dentures can cause pain, sores, infections and facial problems. Your dentist can determine if your dentures need to be adjusted, rebased or relined. If your gums have become very tender, a soft denture reline might alleviate your pain. If the dentures are too old or damaged, you might need new dentures.
Ask your dentist if denture stomatitis could be the cause of your pain. Stomatitis, a yeast or thrush infection of the mouth, can result in mouth soreness and can be caused by poorly fitting dentures or dentures that have been worn too long. Your dentist will look for red areas on your gums under your dentures or reddened, sore areas in the corners of your mouth.
Improve the fit of your dentures temporarily with denture adhesive. Apply three to four small dabs of the adhesive on your upper denture and spread about three to four dabs evenly around the inside of your lower denture. While the adhesive may hold the dentures in your mouth more securely and lessen the pain temporarily, it will not correct a poor fit. See your dentist as soon as possible about denture pain.
Use a topical oral pain-relieving ointment on your gums to alleviate pain until you see a dentist about your dentures. If your doctor approves the use of the ointment, ask her which product is best for you to use considering your health record and any medications you take.
Care for your dentures properly to make sure they retain their shape. Dentures can lose their shape if you allow them to dry out. Soaking them in hot water can cause warping. These changes affect the fit of your dentures and can lead to pain. When not wearing your dentures, keep them in a container with water or a denture cleaner solution.
- Columbia University College of Dental Medicine: Dentures Basics
- American College of Prosthodontists: How to Properly Apply Denture Adhesive
- College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario: Oral Health Matters -- From Head to Toe for Denture Wearers
- International Dental Health Foundation: Denture Stomatitis