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Long-Term Denture Maintenance: Leave It to the Pros

Medically Reviewed by Evan Frisbee, DMD on April 26, 2022

Your dentures aren’t permanent, but they may last a few years if you take good care of them. There are certain things you can do along the way to get the most out of your dentures.

See your dentist regularly. Just like natural teeth, your dentures may start to collect plaque, stains, and other things that impact their quality.

Whether you have partial dentures or full dentures, if they’re not clean, they may develop a film that can cause problems in your mouth and to your overall health.

To avoid problems, see your dentist for regular dental checkups and cleanings. They’ll check your dentures to make sure they're still a good fit. You’ll find out if it’s time for a reline or a replacement, which is a normal part of having dentures. Your dentist will also look for infections, other mouth problems, and early-stage mouth cancer.

Understand the limits of DIY cleaning. If you notice wear and tear on your dentures, you may be tempted to deep clean or fix them yourself. But many at-home strategies may cause problems.

Avoid these do-it-yourself fixes:

  • Don’t try to adjust your dentures so they fit better. You may break them instead of fixing them.
  • Don’t use adhesives to fix dentures that don’t fit well. You may need to reline or replace your dentures or you may end up with oral sores.
  • Don’t use over-the-counter repair kits or glue to fix your dentures. This may cause permanent damage.
  • Don’t put your dentures in hot or boiling water. This may warp your dentures.
  • Avoid whitening toothpaste and products with bleach or peroxide. You can’t whiten your dentures, and bleach and peroxide may discolor them and make them weaker.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and toothpastes and don’t use anything abrasive, like stiff-bristled brushes.
  • If your dentures have metal attachments, don’t soak them in products that have chlorine. This can tarnish and corrode the metal.
  • Avoid products that don’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. They may not be safe or effective.

Know when it’s time for a reline or replacement. Remember that it’s normal for dentures to need replacement or relining over time.

This may happen from normal wear and tear. You may also need a change when the shape of your mouth changes, which may happen if your bone or gum ridges shrink and your jaws meet up differently.

You may also need a change if you have loose dentures. Dentures that are loose or don’t fit well can make eating and talking harder. They can make you uncomfortable and may lead to problems like sores and infections.

Here are signs that you may need a replacement or relining:

  • You have chronic irritation or inflammation under the base of your dentures.
  • You need adhesives to eat or be social.
  • Your dentures don’t stay in by themselves.
  • You have to use adhesives more than once a day.
  • You can’t or don’t want to wear your dentures.
  • Your dentures are worn out.
  • Your dentures aren’t stable in your mouth.
  • Your dentures don’t match your other teeth.
  • Your dentures don’t fit well.
  • Your dentures are discolored, cracked, broken, or missing.
  • Your teeth that support your dentures have changed.
  • You have mouth sores, gum irritation, or an infection.
  • Your dentures are more than 5 years old.

Getting a Realignment

If your dentures don’t fit well, you may need a denture realignment, which is also called a reline. This is a procedure to refit the base of your dentures. A reline gives you a better fit and may make your dentures feel tighter.

Your doctor will help you decide if a reline is a good option or if it’s better to have a replacement.

Getting a Replacement

Dentures aren’t permanent, so after a while, you may need to replace them.

Regular wear and tear of your dentures can lead to cracks, chipping, and other problems. Since dentures are porous, they may develop bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which may lead to health problems like pneumonia. Over time, your hard and soft tissues may change, which makes a replacement necessary.

It may be time for a replacement if your dentures don’t stay in properly, they’re not stable, they don’t have support, or your gums are inflamed.

Talk to your doctor to see if it’s time for a replacement.

What a Professional Can Do

It’s best to see your general dentist or prosthodontist regularly so they can examine your dentures and see if any changes are needed.

Here are some things your dentist may do:

  • Adjust your dentures so you have a better fit.
  • Make sure you don’t have slippage or discomfort.
  • Fix loose dentures so you don’t get irritation, sores, or infection.
  • Check inside your mouth to see if it’s healthy.
  • Tell you if it’s time for a reline or a replacement.

Instead of taking it into your own hands, see a dentist regularly to get the most out of your dentures.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Prosthodontists: “The Frequency of Denture Replacement,” “Relined Dentures.”

ADA: “Denture Care and Maintenance.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Denture Care.”

Mayo Clinic: “Denture care: How do I clean dentures?”

Oral Health Foundation: “Dentures.”

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