Last updated on August 21st, 2019
Denture reline is an important reality of having dentures. The base of dentures — the parts designed to look like your gums — rest on actual natural gum tissue. This area is vital to the success and comfort of your denture, and it needs to be looked after.
In an ideal world, this area where the denture and the gum meet would stay the same forever. Unfortunately for denture wearers, it’s in a constant state of change. The purpose of relining a denture is to better adapt the denture to the current anatomy.
A variety of causes, both natural and man-made, will gradually reshape that important surface and require work.
That’s where denture relines come in.
So what are denture relines? Why do people need them? And when should you not get them?
What Is a Denture Reline
Simply put, a denture reline means taking the denture and modifying the base to better suit the gum it sits on.
When it becomes obvious a reline is necessary, a new cast of your gums is taken. Your dentures themselves are used as the tray to make the impression of your gum, which is then cast in stone. This gives the dentist an accurate model of the current shape of your gums.
Reline material is then injected between this cast and your dentures as they’re pressed down onto the stone. This relines the base of the dentures and helps ensure they fit better.
Any excess reline material is scraped away. The denture is then cleaned and polished and ready to go back in your mouth.
How long it takes for the reline to set and become usable will depend on the material used. In some cases it can be possible to do the reline in a day, supplying you start early enough in the morning.
Other times it’s simply not possible to do same-day relines thanks to the materials involved.
Types of Denture Relines
The most common, and generally preferred, method of reline is to inject the same material into the base of the denture as the denture was originally made of.
There are other options available, however.
- Temporary or In-Mouth Relines are available for some people, depending on their individual situation. These are faster to put in and give you quicker results, but they have some downsides.
Generally, Temporary and In-Mouth Relines are shorter lived than their counterparts. This is to be expected given the name.
More importantly, though, is that the material used often discolors quickly and can be somewhat porous. Because it’s not set by heat like proper reline material, it can quickly become home to bacteria. This can result in bad breath and, in severe cases, bad gum infections.
- Another option is Soft Relines. These are more substantial than Temporary/In-Mouth Relines, and are great for patients whose gums consistently hurt after eating.
Again, these aren’t as long-lived as a full dental reline using the original base material of the denture. They’ll need to be relined every two years. The benefit is the increased patient comfort when eating, which is a major issue for many denture wearers.
Relining an upper denture will create a better vacuum, giving you greater support. Relining a lower denture will help stabilize it, but the lower jaw denture is inherently less stable.
There is only so much that can be done to keep it steady without resorting to implants.
Why Are Denture Relines Necessary?
Our bodies are constantly growing, shrinking, changing, and moving. Our mouths are certainly no exception.
When we lose teeth, we create spaces in our jaw bones. Where once there was a tooth and tooth root, now there’s nothing.
Over time, these spaces start to collapse, making the jaw and gum shrink around them.
This continues to happen even after we get dentures. Because dentures only sit on the gum they don’t provide any structural support. If the gum changes, the denture comes loose.
90% of the shrinking will occur within the first six months or so after the teeth are removed. The first denture reline will need to take place in this time, or else you may develop hyperplastic tissue.
This can make wearing dentures a pain in the future.
After this initial shrinking period, the jaw will continue to subtly change over time. Even the presence of the denture itself will start to reshape the gum under it.
What Happens When Dentures Come Loose
The obvious problem with loose dentures is that they may fall out. This can be incredibly embarrassing and seriously negatively affect a patient’s confidence.
There are other health concerns related to loose dentures, though.
Dentures that are moving around will start to damage the gum. Rubbing and irritating are common problems. Food can become trapped under the denture as well.
Combined, they increase the risk of developing gum disease and periodontitis.
When You should get Your dentures relined?
Denture relining should take place at least once every two years. If you start to feel your dentures slipping or becoming difficult to handle, it’s time to visit the dentist.
When You should not get Your dentures relined?
If you notice your dentures are becoming worn down and the distance between your nose and lips is shrinking, it’s actually time to get your denture remade.
Alternatives to Relining
One way to avoid dental relining is to get implant-supported or implant-stabilized dentures(fixed dentures). These use dental implants to create anchor points in the jaw to place the denture over. It’s not uncommon to place a metal bar across the tops of the implants that the dentures sit on.
This has two benefits:
- It minimizes the amount of change that can occur between the denture and the connecting surface
- It helps to provide support for your bone. Dental implants fill the gaps left by extracted tooth and so prevent your jaw and gum from shrinking as much.
If your denture is starting to feel loose, it may be time for a reline. Contact us today and see how we can help you get a perfect fit for your dentures.