About 30 million people in America have dentures, which are essentially large, plastic removable “plates.” Dentures require maintenance: they need to be removed for six to eight hours daily to prevent yeast infections, fungus growth and mouth odor. Most insurance companies pay for complete dentures, and patients accept this treatment as the standard, even though it can lead to reduced taste (since the denture covers many taste buds), denture pain and other problems. For example, dentures can move up to one quarter of an inch during normal chewing, which causes sores, pain, bone loss and exposure of nerve bundles that can cause sharp pain under dentures.
This is why denture adhesive companies sell millions of dollars worth of denture glues each year. The use of these adhesives can result in gummy, gooey messes as well as upset stomach and depression.
Controlling Denture Pain
The first solution is to go to the dentist to evaluate if there are options other than dentures. Sometimes roots can be saved and attachments placed for a root-retained overdenture. Other times, teeth can be maintained to preserve bone and allow partial dentures to hold on to some teeth while other therapies are being considered.
Next, we need to realize that dentures are made to only last three to five years. After three years, dentures become loose and need to have fresh acrylic to accommodate the changes that are occurring inside your mouth. Dentures move, gums shrink, bone under the dentures erodes and over time, nerves are exposed, leading to more sores and shrinkage. Relining or rebasing dentures will make the dentures fit better and decrease bone loss and sores over time. Patients should see their dentists regularly and ask about implant options to stabilize dentures or upgrade to fixed teeth and get rid of the dentures altogether, whenever possible.