Some people believe that a denture made today will last them for a lifetime. Imagine their surprise to learn that a denture must be maintained, updated, and eventually replaced with a new, better fitting appliance.
To help you understand the maintenance required by denture wearers, here is a brief overview of the three R’s of denture care: Repair, Reline, and Replace.
“I was cleaning my denture when I dropped it!” “I bit into a hard candy and broke off a tooth!” “My dog got a hold of my denture!” Believe us, we’ve heard all the stories about how dentures get damaged and we know it can happen at the most inconvenient of times.
When you first notice an issue that needs repair, contact your denturist right away. They will have you bring the denture to the clinic so that they can assess the repair that needs to be done and how long it will take to complete.
It is important to note that a repaired denture may never be as good as new. And if the denture is old, there is no guarantee as to how long the repair will last.
Please also note that while a repair can restore a lost tooth or fractured denture, it cannot correct certain fundamental problems which may have caused your denture to fail: worn-down teeth, unequal pressure on the gums, premature contact in a certain region, an improper bite, or because the patient’s bone mass has changed over time, leading to a denture that is no longer fitting securely and has started to function improperly.
A reline may be needed if your denture moves a lot or excessively falls down, if lots of food makes its way underneath your denture, or if constant sore spots begin developing with a previously comfortable denture.
Relining does not mean putting a lining in the dentures for comfort. It also does not improve or replace worn teeth.
Rather, a reline replaces the part of the denture that is in contact with your gums. This is done by removing old material on the inside of your denture, taking a new impression that accurately fits your gums, and reprocessing the denture with new acrylic material.
A good guideline is to consider a reline every 2-3 years (on average) from the time that you replace your denture.
The recommended time for replacement (or average lifespan) of a denture is between five and seven years.
Dentures may need to be replaced because the teeth wear out or denture repairs become more and more frequent.
However, most often replacement is necessary simply because our bodies change substantially from year to year. Typically, our oral structures have changed enough after five to seven years that a reline will not adequately fix the problem of loose or ill-fitting dentures, and so replacement is required.
This kind of change in oral structures can be visually indicated by a sunken-in look, caused by bone or “gum” shrinkage.
For advice on when you should consider replacing your dentures, consult with your denturist and have annual check ups.
It is wise to note that prolonging the replacement or relining of your dentures can lead to excessive and irreversible bone loss. In addition, enduring ill-fitting and improperly supportive dentures can also cause TMJ disorder. Annual visits to your denturist are your best line of defense in preventing these outcomes and to enjoying well-fitting, comfortable and optimally functional dentures.