So, your dentures hurt and you aren’t sure where to seek help? And you just want the pain and associated inconvenience to cease? A good place to start is with your oral health professional but gathering some information before your visit may help decide whether you need immediate professional attention or whether to take the ‘wait and see’ approach.
There are many reasons your dentures may be painful. We list some of them below together with suggestions for action.
Your dentures are new
Perhaps you have recently acquired new dentures. You may have had tooth extractions and never worn a denture before. It would not be surprising then, if you didn’t quite know what to expect in terms of adjustment as your mouth recovers from the trauma of tooth extraction.
Even though your oral health provider may have explained the process and the normal adjustment period of 6-8 weeks for a denture to settle in, individual pain thresholds and healing times are also factors. It is perfectly normal to have some discomfort while your oral tissues and muscles adapt to the new prosthesis in your mouth.
Individual expectations are also an important element in the adjustment process. Staying positive and being informed will help you understand what is ‘normal’ and what may need to be addressed for the adjustment process to be as brief as possible. If for example, you develop ulcers during this adjustment period, or gum tenderness persists, your dental prosthetist will adjust your denture accordingly. Adjustments are a normal part of the settling in process for new dentures and more than one may be required as the swelling reduces, and mouth tissues shrink.
Some people sail through the process of having new dentures fitted and arrive very quickly at a point where their dentures are comfortable, where they are enjoying the benefits of being able to eat, talk and look good again. This is often the case for those who are simply replacing old dentures and are not in need of tooth extractions.
For others, the journey may require extra patience. Not only must time be allowed for healing, but also for the patient to get used to something foreign in their mouth. But rest assured your dental prosthetist is there to support you through the process.
Your dentures are old
Your mouth is a dynamic landscape. Muscles and tissues change over time as part of the ageing process. The perfectly fitting denture you had made some years ago may no longer fit as well as it did when new. Tooth surfaces wear down with use, changing your ‘bite’ and placing strain on the facial muscles and tissues. A poorly fitting denture requires more effort to keep secure in your mouth. This can cause uncomfortable tension in your jaw and potential bone loss.
Are you practising good oral hygiene?
Sometimes simply practising good oral hygiene will help prevent pain caused by a build up of bacteria between your denture and mouth tissues. Fungal infections can develop because of poor oral hygiene causing tissues to become red and raw. It is important therefore, to clean not only your gums and any remaining teeth you may have, but also the roof of your mouth. Soaking your denture and cleaning thoroughly with a soft brush after eating will also help avoid infections like thrush.
Your mouth is changing with age
Your mouth undergoes anatomical changes like bone loss as a normal part of the ageing process. As a result, your dentures move against the soft tissues in your mouth causing painful irritations. Rubbing and sore spots in your mouth are often due to poorly fitting dentures.
In some instances, your dentures may hurt due to dental anomalies like xerostomia or dry mouth. Patient allergies to the materials from which dentures are made can also cause discomfort. Rest assured there are solutions to these issues. Consult with your prosthetist who is well equipped to help you.
The crafting of a denture is a complex and exacting process. It involves recording various measurements in moulds used to make the final product. On rare occasions, if just one of these measurements is inaccurate, it can mean your denture will be unstable and therefore uncomfortable. When things don’t go smoothly or to plan, it’s comforting to know your oral health provider will help you through the process of setting things right.
The pain of making your own adjustments
Warning: Not only will making your own adjustments void any warranty your denture may have, but it can also end in further pain and discomfort. Do not be tempted to alleviate sore spots by shaving a bit off your denture or attempting to fix a cracked denture or lost tooth by gluing it back together. Patient repairs often alter the bite or cause misalignment resulting in further pressure and discomfort. Using inappropriate adhesives can damage your denture and jeopardise your health.
There are good reasons your denture may hurt but, in most cases, they can easily be resolved. Exercising patience with new dentures, knowing when to consult with your dental prosthetist, practising good dental hygiene, are all good strategies for avoiding unnecessary pain in either your mouth or your hip pocket.
Disclaimer – Always consult your oral health professional for expert advice about your unique personal situation. The information given here is of a general nature and for the purpose of education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your oral health specialist
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.