Ask The Denturist

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Q: What is a reline?

A: A reline is a procedure to update the fit of your denture, and involves taking a new impression. Your mouth continuously changes over time once teeth are lost, and relines are necessary every so often to keep your dentures fitting well. Signs that you may need a reline include soreness, food entrapment, breakage, and instability. If you have experienced recent weight loss or an illness, a reline may be recommended more frequently. Annual checkups are recommended to head off these problems.

Q: Are there different types of reline materials?

A: A "permanent" reline is the most common type of reline, and is a hard material very similar to the existing denture base. When a permanent reline is performed, it takes several hours to complete. Permanent reline material does cannot be removed and does not fall apart, it becomes one with the denture. It does not require any special cleaning or care. "Permanent" refers to the material used to reline the denture, which bonds perfectly with the denture base, and will not deteriorate over time. "Permanent" relines will still need to be redone every few years for most patients, because even though the denture will not change, the patient's mouth will change over time. Most patients need to have their dentures relined every 2-4 years. However, an annual checkup is highly recommended to head off any problems.

A "temporary" reline is usually a somewhat softer material, and is usually placed while the patient waits in the chair. Temporary relines are usually only used when the mouth is healing, such as after extractions, during a time of expected weight loss, or as a short-term solution in anticipation of additional treatment in the near future. Temporary reline materials are more porous, and require additional care in cleaning for optimum sanitation and preservation of the material. Unlike "permanent" reline material, temporary relines eventually deteriorate. Softer types of temporary material can also become very dirty, as the material traps and harbors tiny food particles and bacteria if not properly cared for, or if worn too long.

A "permanent" softliner is a soft, long-lasting, cushion-like material. It takes several hours to complete a permanent softliner. A permanent softliner is designed to be safely worn for up to several years. It is usually only placed in the lower denture, and usually only for patients whose mouths have become very sensitive due to jawbone deterioration or other physical issues that prevent them from wearing a normal hard denture base. Softliners do require meticulous cleaning and soaking in a good solution, as the material should not be brushed or scrubbed. It is a good solution for patients who have ongoing discomfort with their lower dentures, if they are not candidates for implants.

When calling to find a denturist to reline your denture, ask them what types of materials would be used. Know what to expect, and how to care for it.

Q: How often should my dentures be replaced?

A: According to dental insurance companies and the ADA, full or partial dentures should be replaced every 5 years. However, the useful lifespan of most dentures typically ranges from 8- 12 years. Several factors may affect the lifespan of the dentures.

Many people wear dentures longer they should, even though the dentures are ill-fitting and worn out. The tendency to keep wearing worn out dentures can be attributed to “the old shoe syndrome”. Since the changes occur gradually, most denture-wearers do not realize the severity of the problem. Therefore, they continue to wear the ill-fitting, worn out denture, even though it is no longer functionally correct.

Q: What problems are associated with wearing old dentures?

A: Over time, the denture teeth “wear down”, or become flatter and shorter. This means that the bite relationship (how your jaws come together when you close your mouth) also changes. Short, flat, worn out teeth allow your jaws to close further than they should. This can cause problems with the TMJ, an unflattering “emaciated” or “sunken” appearance, and difficulty chewing.

Worn-out dentures are also usually ill-fitting. Loose, ill-fitting dentures cause more sore spots. Dentures that don’t fit are are also more likely to break.

Wearing dentures beyond the useful service life also increases the difficulty in adjusting to new dentures once they are finally made.

Annual visits to your denturist are important to make sure that your dentures are still fitting properly. Regular maintenance of the dentures includes relines, which means refitting the dentures. Relines are usually recommended every two to three years.

Q: What are dental implants?

A: Dental implants are a great solution for many patients who want their dentures to be more stable. The implants are tiny screws, which are surgically placed into the jawbone. The denture is then made to fit on top of, and “snap” onto the implants for a secure fit. The patient can still take the denture out for cleaning and maintenance. There are many different types of implants. The surgery is done by an oral surgeon or periodontist, and your denturist can make the dentures to fit on the implants. Dental implants are most frequently used to hold the lower denture in place, but may also be used on the upper. Dental implants are the ultimate solution for achieving a secure fit for your dentures.

Q: How do I care for my dentures?

A: Annual checkups are highly recommended for all denture wearers. Dentures also require daily maintenance to keep them clean. You should rinse your dentures after every meal, and at least once per day you should find a period of time (at least 20 minutes) during which you can soak your dentures in a good quality denture cleaner. Most-over-the-counter denture cleaners will do an OK job, but you may want to consider purchasing a stronger solution (such as Bright Now) through your dental professional. Always rinse the dentures before soaking, and mix the cleaner according to package directions. You can use a denture brush to remove any loose particles from the denture prior to soaking it, but please DO NOT USE toothpaste. Toothpaste will cause excess wear on your dentures because it very abrasive. Always rinse your dentures after soaking, and before re-inserting them into your mouth. While your dentures are out, it is also a good idea to massage your gums with a soft toothbrush dipped in mouthwash. Drinking a glass of water without your dentures also helps to cleanse and refresh the tissues under the dentures. When you're not wearing them, ALWAYS put your dentures in a denture cup, in a safe location out of reach of pets and children. And at least once per year, see your denturist for a checkup. You can also call your denturist if you have any questions or concerns about your denture at any time.

Q: Why should I see a denturist, and how do I find one near me?

A: Denturists are specialists in making and fitting dentures and partials. Denturists work directly with their patients to provide the best possible care, and they can help you coordinate your treatment (such as natural tooth care) with other dental specialists when necessary. You do not need a referral to see a denturist. To locate a denturist near you, use the following links:

Washington State: WASHINGTON DENTURIST ASSOCIATION: www.wadenturist.com

Oreogn State: OREGON STATE DENTURIST ASSOCIATION: www.oregondenturist.org

Everywhere Else: NATIONAL DENTURIST ASSOCIATION: www.nationaldenturist.com

"ASK THE DENTURIST" IS TRADEMARKED AND SPONSORED BY FIRST CHOICE DENTURE SERVICE INC, PS (LOCATIONS IN PASCO, WA AND PENDLETON, OR). QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED BY JOSEPH C. VIZE, DPD, LD. QUESTIONS MAY BE SUBMITTED TO "ASK THE DENTURIST" BY USING THE "CONTACT US" BUTTON ON THIS SITE, BY E-MAILING This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , BY SUBMITTING A QUESTION ON THE "ASK THE DENTURIST" FACEBOOK OR TWITTER PAGE, OR BY CALLING 1-888-806-1800. ANSWERS PROVIDED HERE ARE OFFERED IN GOOD FAITH, AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE A PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION. ALL DENTURE PATIENTS ARE ADVISED TO VISIT A LICENSED DENTURIST IN THEIR AREA AT LEAST ONCE PER YEAR FOR A CHECKUP. PATIENTS WITH NATURAL TEETH OR DENTAL IMPLANTS SHOULD ALSO CONSULT REGULARLY WITH A LICENSED DENTIST.