Question:  I continue to read about soft dentures.  What are they and how do they differ from regular dentures.

Answer:  This is a very interesting question and one that denture wearers ask me frequently. Soft dentures are a traditional denture made of either porcelain or plastic teeth.  These teeth are imbedded into a hard plastic.  Then a thin layer (1/32 of an inch) of a soft silicon material is chemically adhered to the gum bearing area of the denture This gives a softer cushion feeling to the denture.  This is applied on the lower denture only since lowers are the dentures that typically slip.  The soft material usually lasts for years, but does have a tendency over time to stain more than the hard plastic.

Lower dentures are the difficult denture to keep in place because the only thing that keeps them stabilized in position is the equalizing pressures between the lip and tongue. This soft lining gives some flex to the denture when biting as they slide in the mouth, especially during eating.

After teeth are extracted, the bone that supports the teeth start to shrink.  Over time this bone loss has a significant impact on the denture wearer.  The nerve that gives sensation to the lip lies in the lower jaw and as the bone shrinks the denture impinges and puts pressure on the nerve giving a sharp pain sensation.  You denture wearers who have significant bone loss know what I am talking about.  The soft liner in a denture helps to reduce the direct pressure over this nerve area and make them more comfortable.

If there is enough bone remaining, I recommend using mini-stabilizers to hold the denture in place.  Rather than depending on the lip and tongue to constantly keep the denture in position these small implants (1.8mm in diameter) fasten the denture to the lower jaw. Now that the denture doesn’t move in position it is possible to eat the foods you want and not the food you have to.

Question: I lost forty pounds due to an illness and my dentures don’t fit anymore.  I have been using denture adhesive, but my stomach can’t take it anymore.  Why have they become so loose and what can I do about it?

Answer: Upper dentures rest the soft tissues of the roof of the mouth (palate).  This area contains fat deposits under the skin of the palate and when you lost weight the supporting surface of the denture shrunk and couldn’t effectively support your denture.  This interface needs to be very precise or the suction will be lost.

There are two treatment methods used to treat the loose denture.  If your denture is in fairly good condition and the teeth are not worn a reline should be adequate.  This relining process usually takes 2 days and can work quite well.  If the dentures are too old, too loose or have excess tooth wear new ones will need to me fabricated.

Dentures need to be maintained on a regular basis by your dentist  to compensate for the bone loss that naturally occurs in denture wearers.  If you go too long without having your denture relined or remade the problem will get worse at an accelerated rate.

Question:  What is the best way to clean my denture?

Answer:  There are a couple of methods used to clean dentures.  The use of a hard bristled denture brush and denture cream is an excellent way to clean dentures.  Also soaking the denture in solutions like Efferdent at night helps with stain and odor.  To reduce the build up of tarter on the denture soak in vinegar overnight about once per month.  The vinegar is an acid and it can dissolve the mineral deposits found in tarter.

Long term storage of old dentures is best done by placing them in the freezer inside of a zip lock freezer bag.  First soak them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for about 30 minutes or so.  Then rinse them off really well and dry.  Next, place them in a zip lock freezer bag but be sure to not add water to the denture or this will potentially fracture them.