Denture pain is relatively common among many denture wearers. First time denture wearers as well as seasoned denture wearers will find themselves suffering sore gums from time to time for various reasons. Modern denture technology cannot produce a denture that will fit perfectly for the rest of your life, but there are some things you can do when denture pain drops by for a visit. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems that cause denture related pain, and some possible remedies.
Carefully brush your dentures with a soft denture brush and a recommended toothpaste. This will loosen any debris and remove bacteria. It isn’t necessary to brush them after every meal, but rinsing is recommended as it helps flush out any food particles that may be stuck around the teeth. Simply rinsing and brushing will help prevent infection. Be sure to soak your denture cleaning brush in a 50/50 solution of water and clorox once a week to keep it disinfected.
One of the biggest causes of denture related pain is directly related to the way they fit. When a denture rests snugly against the gums and doesn’t slide around, then pain shouldn’t be an issue. But when that once great fit seems to be slipping away, the dentures begin to rub against the gums leading to soreness and swelling. If left untreated this can make wearing the dentures intolerable.
Why do dentures lose their fit? The shape of the dental ridges is always changing. Over time, the boney ridges begin to deteriorate and the denture becomes loose because it no longer conforms to the new shape of the gums. When this happens it’s time to take action. Let’s look at some different ways to deal with this situation.
When dentures no longer fit properly, there are some denture products that can provide short term relief until you can see your denturist. Over-the-counter products such as denture creams and adhesives can provide a temporary cushion as well as assist with the denture’s grip. These elastic-like products form a bond between the denture and gums, holding the dentures more firmly in place.
Denture cushions, small pieces of cotton that have been permeated with wax, fit between the denture base and the boney ridges and usually offer some level of relief. Both types of denture products are really only intended for temporary use. The denture cushion may actually speed up the process of bone resorption because it further reduces the pressure needed to stimulate bone production.
The fit of a denture can actually be adjusted and improved in several ways. If the gums are simply too sore and swollen for a new impression to be made, then a temporary soft liner may be added to the underside of the denture to act as a cushion until the gums have had time to heal. If the gums are not in too bad of shape then a semi-permanent liner may be added for extra comfort. Denturists may also use a flexible resin material to coat the inner ridge of the denture base, restoring a snug, comfortable fit. Everything depends on the shape of the gums.
How can you promote healing after the gums have become inflamed? The simplest remedies are sometimes the most effective. First of all, remove the dentures and let your gums rest. All tissue requires oxygen to stay healthy. By removing your dentures for a short time you are taking away the irritant and allowing the gums to breathe. Good hygiene will also go a long way to soothe tender gums. Gently swab the gums with a warm washcloth to remove harmful bacteria that may lead to a gum infection. Be meticulous about cleaning every surface and crevice of your dentures before putting them into the denture bath for a soak. Always notify your denturist as soon as you begin to feel persistent denture pain.
Common Type of Pain
Experiencing some level of denture related pain is not uncommon for denture wearers. There are a number of pains commonly associated with the break-in period for new dentures, and other pains that can alert the denture wearer to a bigger problem. Tender swollen gums, pressure sores, and tired aching jaws can all be a problem at one time or another. Let’s look at the three main causes of denture pain.
A bad fit can be the culprit in many common denture pains. When dentures are loose enough to rub against the gums, it usually leads to sore spots and swelling. If the denture base was not made to fit perfectly and some areas of the gum are receiving more pressure than the others, this results in a pinching of the gum tissue, causing more tenderness and swelling.
Using excessive pressure when biting or chewing with your dentures can also be a common cause of denture pain. The gum tissue is trapped between the denture base and the bone beneath, virtually between a rock and a hard place. One example that causes this type of denture related pain would be trying to bite a chunk out of an apple with the front teeth of your dentures. Standard dentures are not expected to operate in this way. It puts way too much pressure on those gum ridges, and this will surely make them tender. The same thing will likely happen if you chew tough steak. Denture wearers should always cut hard foods into small pieces before chewing.
Shrinking gums and bones can ruin the once perfect fit of your dentures. The original denture base was modeled on the current shape of the gums at that time. Once the gum begins to change shape, the original fit is lost and the dentures are now free to move against the gums, causing sore spots. One cause for some of this shrinkage is a process called resorption. When the bone ridges in the jaw no longer have the roots of the natural teeth to provide pressure stimulus, bone production begins to decrease, eventually ceasing completely. Gum disease also causes shrinkage of the dental ridge. Dentures can be adjusted periodically to help restore a better fit, but eventually the ridge is too small to support a denture.
Pain is a common complaint for most denture wearers at one time or another. The key to eliminating denture pain is to see your denturist as soon as problems come up. An early solution for your denture pain means you’ll have sweet relief that much sooner.
How normal are taste problems with Dentures
Does wearing dentures have any effect on your sense of taste? The short term answer is yes, new denture wearers will likely experience some drop in the level of taste sensation in the beginning. Your mouth is going to go through an adjustment period while it gets used to the way the dentures feel. However, in time you should experience a return of normal taste sensation as in your pre-denture days. Let’s take a look at how the sensation of taste works and how dentures can affect it.
The sensations of taste and smell are interrelated, that is , they work together as a team. There are four basic tastes that the nerve receptors in our nose, mouth and throat recognize; sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The nerve receptors in the nose, or olfactory system, are usually the first to report to the brain. That’s why you can walk into a room, smell the air and say, “I smell chicken soup”. You know what it is even before you have a chance to taste it, because your brain has an associative memory with odors, particularly strong ones. The only basic taste that the nose cannot identify is salty.
Most of the taste buds in your mouth are near the tip and around the edges of your tongue, but some are also in your throat and a few are located in the roof of your mouth. When food enters your mouth, the nerve receptors send a signal to the brain to order the production of saliva. As food is chewed, the tongue and teeth work to mash it together with the saliva, bringing out the taste. Working together with the smell receptors in your nose, all these cells report the data to your brain and the brain orders the chemical combinations that result in what we know as flavor.
This is where dentures come in. For now, we’ll focus on the affect that full dentures, especially upper dentures have on our sense of taste.
A full standard upper denture has an acrylic plate that stretches across the roof of the mouth covering the palate, and therefore covering the small amount of taste buds located there, isolating them from the tasting process. The rest of the taste buds in the tip and edges of the tongue are now constantly in contact with the denture, tasting the denture plastic. No matter what you eat at first, the taste of the denture plastic will be reported to the brain, along with any other tastes detected.
The good news is that this is only noticeable in the short term. Eventually the taste buds and the brain will become accustomed to the constant report of the denture plastic taste, and like many things in life that we become used to and finally ignore, the denture taste will go away. Your nerve receptors will begin to concentrate more on the new items entering your mouth, and your taste senses will be focused on them, not your dentures.
So while denture wearers may have some initial concerns about how their dentures will affect their taste, dentures should really only bring a temporary change, your mouth will soon become accustomed to the dentures and things will return to nearly the normal level of your pre-denture days.
If your tasting troubles continue be sure to consult with your denturist. There are modifications that can be made to some types of dentures to lessen the area of the denture base and lower the amount of denture plastic.
When to be worried?
When should you be worried about your dentures? Let’s start at the beginning. When you first get your new dentures they are going to feel like a foreign object in your mouth, because, frankly they are. Even perfect fitting, painless dentures, are still going to feel like you have a mouthful of plastic, and that’s only natural at first.
The best way to over come that feeling is to make friends with your dentures, spend quality time getting to know one another. The translation? Wear them! Just by keeping dentures in your mouth all day long you are going to naturally become accustomed to them. All new denture wearers go through this stage to some extent, and they usually get past it. However there are some signs for new denture wearers to watch out for if things aren’t settling down after the first few days.
First of all, if your gums and mouth tissue start to swell when you put your dentures in, this may be a sign that you are having an allergic reaction to the denture acrylic. If you have a strong allergy to the acrylic, then swelling may have already shown up during the fitting process, and you wouldn’t have acrylic dentures at this point. However, allergies are funny things and you can develop an allergy with repeated exposure to a certain material. So don’t rule out an allergy and contact your denturist immediately.
Some of the more common signs of trouble have to do with fitting issues. At first, you will need to learn how use your new dentures to eat and speak properly. This takes some time and effort because you have to train the muscles in your mouth how to manipulate your dentures into doing what you need them to do. Again, all first time denture wearers must work to get through this period, but they do eventually learn.
Even a slight amount of denture slippage is normal in the initial using period and should be overcome with practice. However, if slippage continues and your gums are beginning to develop sore spots, then it’s time to check back with your denturist. Sore spots left untreated may become infected and very swollen, making it impossible to put the denture back on. Again, make an appointment to see your denturist immediately. It is always better to address these problems at the start, and keep them from escalating.
Your new denture should feel solid in construction, no moving parts with the exception of flexible and soft type dentures. If your dentures have teeth that show signs of wiggling, or the clip on your partial starts to bend, these are signs that your dentures need attention. Any hairline fractures that develop in your dentures should also be immediately reported.
There are also physical warning signs denture wearers should watch out for. Periodontal disease can wreak havoc with your gums and dental ridge, making it nearly impossible to wear conventional dentures. Gum disease would also rule out denture implants. The American Academy of Periodontists gives these eight warning signs of gum disease: mouth pain, bleeding gums, spaces developing between teeth, swollen and tender gums, receding gums, persistent bad breath, pus coming from the gums, and changes in the way your teeth fit together.
Red or white spots and sores that do not go away within 2 weeks should be examined. Persistent mouth sores can be an early sign of oral cancer.
If you have one or more of these warning signs, see your denturist right away.