How often should dentures be replaced?

Older woman with dentures

If you are a first-time denture wearer you may wonder how often your dentures will need to be replaced. Knowing the answer will help in your choice of denture and deciding how much to spend on a denture. In this article we discuss some of the common concerns people have when trying to determine whether to repair or replace an existing denture.

How long can you expect a denture to last?

How long a denture lasts depends on the type of denture, the material it’s made of; how well you maintain the denture; your oral hygiene; your clinical situation (like your bite registration and changing oral topography); as well as your eating choices and lifestyle. An acrylic denture for example, has a lifespan of between 5 to 8 years. However, it’s not unknown for a cobalt chrome denture to last as long as 20 years. Whereas an immediate denture generally has a lifespan of around two years with relines (a special lining applied to the inside of your denture). While some of these factors are beyond your control,
ensuring regular denture maintenance by your dental prosthetist and maintaining a good hygiene regime, will have a positive impact on your denture’s longevity.

How do you know when dentures need to be replaced?

Denture replacement is driven by two factors: changes in your mouth, jaw and gums, as well as general wear and tear on your denture. In the first case, the natural ageing process and/or an individual’s declining health status can make changes to the oral landscape negatively impacting the denture’s fit, resulting in the need for a new denture at some point. In the second instance, your denture may suffer substantial wear and tear beyond a simple repair or replacement of worn teeth. An example of this is the loss of surface on your denture base making it permeable and subject to mould and bacteria in the tiny fissures that develop.

Signs you need to replace your dentures

There are certain signs to be aware of that alert you to the need to replace your dentures. If you experience any or some of these signs, however, don’t immediately assume new dentures are in order. Sometimes your prosthetist can restore fit by adjusting or relining your denture making it good to go again for a bit longer. Always consult and discuss your individual case with your prosthetist so as to make the right decision for you.

  • You may notice your denture no longer fits snugly. Indeed, the denture may feel loose in your mouth and rub sore spots on your gums. This may not always mean you need a new denture, but can sometimes be resolved by a visit to your prosthetist who will adjust or reline your denture to restore the close fit.
  • When it hurts to chew because of uneven pressure. Tender spots developing on your gums are often a sign of worn or ill-fitting dentures. Again, a visit to your prosthetist will determine if you need to replace your dentures.
  • Slurred speech can be a sign of dentures that no longer fit well. You most probably will notice this sign along with looseness in your denture’s fit.
  • A more obvious sign will be loss of aesthetic appearance. Your denture may be chipped or discoloured or have lost its lustre. Coffee, red wine and some foods can cause discolouring of your denture which may be kept in check with regular maintenance by your prosthetist. Some of the teeth may be worn, stained or even loose. A worn denture can be hazardous to your health. Minute cracks and crevasses harbour bad bacteria and mould. Further, worn denture teeth can alter your ability to
    properly chew your food.
  • Regular denture checks by your dental prosthetist will reveal more subtle signs your denture needs replacing. For example, while you may be unaware of changes in your facial contours over time, your prosthetist can detect a loss of ‘vertical dimension’i. This is a collapsing of the space between your chin and the tip of your nose unique to each individual. Loss of additional natural teeth, bone loss, and ageing, contribute to facial changes which impact on your denture’s ability to support facial muscles and maintain a youthful appearance.

Can worn down dentures be repaired?

This depends on the nature of the wear or damage to the denture. Minor breaks and cracks can be effectively repaired in the laboratory of your denture clinic. Lost teeth can be replaced, and the inside of the denture relined to restore fit and comfort. However, if the teeth are worn down or the surface of the denture base has been compromised over time, it may be time to replace your denture.

What causes dentures to wear?

Beyond the normal wear and tear of everyday living, dentures can suffer unnecessarily from lack of proper regular maintenance and poor cleaning practices. Failure to address issues of loose dentures can result in uneven pressure causing not only discomfort and injury to your mouth, but also damage or possible breakage of your denture. The use of abrasive cleaners not designed for dentures and harsh brushing can shorten the lifespan of your denture by weakening the resin material, spoiling its appearance, and causing
fissures in the denture’s surface. When choosing your new denture, it’s also worth remembering that because of the lower quality materials from which economy dentures are made, they are less durable and have a shorter lifespan. Sometimes saving money on the initial denture purchase is a false economy.

What happens if you don’t replace worn dentures?

In addition to not granting you the appearance you deserve, worn dentures present a health hazard. Worn surfaces harbour harmful bacteria that can cause health conditions from bad breath to respiratory illness. In addition, teeth, whether artificial or natural, play an important role in the body’s digestive process. Chewing one’s food and mixing it with saliva begins this process without which our digestion may suffer. The inability to chew properly also spoils your enjoyment of food. Further, because worn dentures don’t fit
properly, sore spots can develop with the potential for infection. Loss of bone and vertical dimension occurring as one ages can be improved with a properly fitting denture by filling out facial sagging.

How to prolong the life of your dentures

Looking after the considerable investment in your health, appearance, and finances your denture represents, involves a two-pronged exercise. Firstly, committing to regular maintenance by your dental prosthetist on an annual basis will ensure proper fit and appearance. Your prosthetist will keep an eye on potential issues before they become big problems. Secondly, adopting a good hygiene regime using appropriate products for dentures will ensure your denture’s appearance, hygiene, and longevity. See here for advice on cleaning your denture.

When should I choose to repair rather than buy new dentures?

This is a choice which should be guided by your oral health professional. However, depending on your circumstances you may save money and extend the life of your dentures by having them repaired instead. With good hygiene practice, regular denture checks and taking general care of your dentures, it may be possible to repair minor damage and put off having to purchase new dentures. For example, a reline or special coating applied to the inside of your denture may restore fit and stability to your existing denture thus delaying having to purchase a new one. Ask your prosthetist for a repair time frame so you’re not without your denture for too long. A reline shouldn’t take more
than a day or two at most, especially if you deal directly with your denture laboratory.

A final word on how often you should replace your dentures

Deciding when to replace your denture or to repair it, is a choice best made in conjunction with your oral health professional. However, there are signs which can alert you when it’s time to seek advice. Extending your denture’s lifespan with regular maintenance and good dental hygiene practice saves you inconvenience, time and money. Failing to address a worn or faulty denture can compromise more than just your appearance and may jeopardise your health. In some circumstances, it’s possible to delay getting a new denture by choosing to repair the one you have.

References

i https://www.for.org/en/treat/treatment-guidelines/edentulous/diagnostics/clinical-assessment/vertical-dimension



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