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When is It Time to Replace My Dentures?

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Whether it’s all-on-4 implants, partial, or complete dentures, it’s a significant investment. Dentures require diligent hygiene and maintenance wherever possible. But life happens, wear and tear happens, and you might be wondering when it’s time to get new dentures. No one likes to replace them early, so we can shed some light on warning signs that you might need to think about it.

Warning Signs You Need a Denture Replacement

Warning signs might be obvious, but it might take a trained eye to spot them early — so it’s recommended to bring your denture in for an annual denture checkup.

Regular checkups allow your denturist to attend to damage as it develops. What’s more, your gums can actually change shape a bit over time, which loosens the fit and comfort coming from the fit. If your gum line is shifting, an annual denture checkup can shed light on whether you need a replacement.

What to Expect from Replacement

Because your dentures can be made from several different materials, they endure different levels of wear and tear, typically. But if the damage reaches a certain point on the base, you’ll have to get a denture rebasing done. Various types of damage to the dentures’ teeth means you might need to get some of them switched out, which might also require rebasing. 

Chipped & Cracked Denture Base

The denture base joining your gums can often require replacement first, before the denture’s teeth. If your denture base is cracked, broken, warped, or otherwise damaged — it’s usually a matter of removing the denture’s teeth and starting at the wax forming stage.

Rebasing depends on the extent of the damage. Some materials, like Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), are soft but brittle. If they’re dropped even from waist height, it can dramatically shorten your dentures’ useful life.

This material can only take that kind of impact a few times before they crack or break apart. Try to keep a record of how many times you dropped them and from what height, and share that information at your annual denture checkup.

Discolouration & Chemical Damage

In case you haven’t kept up with routine hygienic maintenance of your dentures — your oral health might benefit from a thorough disinfecting with more potent substances than milder denture cleaning solutions. 

Some suggest chlorine, but chlorine breaks down the material. You might notice chemical damage to the base material. In that case, it may need replacing very soon, so you should check with a denturist as soon as you notice it. Chemicals leading to discolouration can be absorbed into some materials like PMMA — much like bacteria causing the type of bad breath unique to dentures. Bacteria might also become too entrenched, in some cases requiring rebasing.

Thorough rinsing and soaking can decrease the absorption rate of chemicals and bacteria and prolong the life of your dentures — so you might need your denturist’s eyes at an annual denture checkup to see if they’re harbouring trace chemicals. Rebasing might be your only option if this type of damage is extensive.

Increasing Use of Adhesive

miniature toy workers climbing over and maintaining dentures

You might notice the fit is off, affecting how well you can chew and speak. The root cause can vary from warping due to hot food and drink all the way to gum line drift. But the effect is a significantly looser fit.

Denture fit is crucial, and using a denture adhesive can support you if the alignment is only slightly off. Using adhesives in increasing volume and frequency compared to when you first got your denture is another sign you might need a rebasing.

Pain & Sores in Your Mouth

In case adhesives don’t solve the fit problem, pain and sores can develop. Your dentures should really only cause some discomfort when you first wear them. That’s because your brain will still be getting used to the new feeling. But if your dentures routinely cause you pain long after you get them, they may be warped, or your gum line may have shifted!

Infection can set in, and sores can develop without repair or rebasing due to poor fit. In particular, cheilitis and stomatitis are caused by yeast formation between your mouth and denture. Watch out for small red bumps on the roof of your mouth, or sore and cracking lips.

But if the cause is chemical from more potent cleaners, that can cause sores as well, so it’s essential to have a denturist check for the reason why.

Chipped & Broken Denture Teeth

When your dentures’ teeth crack, chip off, or break into pieces, you’ll need replacement of each broken tooth in short order. Malocclusion means improper bite, and its effects are as severe on denture wearers as patients with all-natural teeth.

Malocclusion can impact your jaw over time because your bite’s alignment has been thrown out in that case. If your jaw flexes awkwardly every time you bite down, you can injure the joint. You might then experience pain and possibly dislocation. Malocclusion tends to be a denture emergency, so your denturist needs to take a look ASAP.

Your Dentures’ Age

No matter how well you care for and maintain them, all dentures break down eventually. How long a denture lasts ultimately depends on the choice of material, your maintenance complemented by professional maintenance, and how much external damage your dentures have gone through.

Because some materials are more expensive (and durable) than others, replacement might come within a year or after a handful of years. But we can give you a ballpark estimate based on what you choose!

When in Doubt Ask Your Denturist

This article isn’t an exhaustive list for why you might need a denture replacement. These factors are just the most common signs suggesting a need for repair or replacement. Also, there’s lots of DIY repair information out there, but non-professional maintenance comes with plenty of risks. It’s best to bring your dentures in for an annual checkup. That way, you can make an expert-informed replacement decision with an educated guess on how long your dentures will hold up!

Written by Wade Klimpke

Wade Klimpke is a past President and long-standing member of the College of Alberta Denturists. Wade leads a number of industry working groups which help advance and monitor old, current, and new industry developments. This has allowed him to gain a number of industry relationships with implant dentistry suppliers in Canada and the United States.
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