Denture pain is also removable

Nov. 1, 2005
Our patient Alma has four remaining teeth. They serve as the anchors for some important removable partials which factor heavily on her ability to talk and eat well.

Our patient Alma has four remaining teeth. They serve as the anchors for some important removable partials which factor heavily on her ability to talk and eat well. These few teeth keep Alma from relying on full dentures. At each dental visit she tells us she wishes she’d taken better care of her smile, especially when her tissues hurt and her dentures fit poorly.

Through meticulous home care, she now safeguards her few remaining teeth with proper brushing and maintains cleanliness on the upper and lower removable dentures with a regular soak and scrub. Her stable teeth mean more to Alma than one can imagine, but she views her removable dentures as the next best thing. She greatly relies on her dental team to perform regular intraoral exams and educate her about caring for both her remaining teeth and her removable smile.

When teeth are extracted, ridge remodeling of the alveolar bone may cause resorption of the bone, and the fit of the denture may need to be altered to prevent sores. Continually observing the tissues under the dentures is important for the partially edentulous patient. Trauma from rough areas or rubbing from dentures will cause irritation and a burning sensation of the tender tissues. When patients wear dentures and neglect to remove the plate, the tissues are susceptible to increased redness and oral lesions. Infections such as fungus and candida albicans may grow and become a chronic mucosal lesion. Applying Rincinol PRN by Sunstar/Butler can provide relief.

When patients experience sore spots from denture rub, a product that offers comfort through a benzocaine delivery patch is Topicale GelPatch by Premier, a mucosal patch which numbs tissue for up to 20 minutes. The patch is laden with 18 percent benzocaine anesthetic, which absorbs into the surface where the denture rests. The self-dissolving piece means there is no need to remove the flexible patch during a procedure because it gradually dissolves intraorally. The patch is similar in appearance to taffy candy, is pliable, and may be fit to any size.

Many denture wearers are concerned about their ability to efficiently clean their plates. Bacterial odoriferous plaque left on the denture along with stale food debris places remaining teeth at risk for unwanted bacteria. Effervescent tablets work well for many denture wearers; however, dentures with stubborn bacteria and thick debris need a cycle in the office ultrasonic unit, where professional tartar and stain remover works well. Patients comment that they appreciate the attention and say, “I just can’t get the denture as clean as you can.”

Another Premier product that comes in a handy single-unit use is ProClean professional tartar and stain remover. These bright yellow cleaning crystals are mixed with water for professional or at-home use. When used in-office, the mint crystals may be put in a zipped plastic bag and placed in the ultrasonic for about five minutes to offer denture hygiene. If desired, the patient may use a packet at home and use a similar soaking method for a couple of hours. ProClean is dispensed as a unit box containing 25 packets, enough to weekly super-soak partial dentures between recare visits. Patients can safely use the special maintenance at home by following the directions given by their professional.

A sturdy denture brush is a cleaning must for those with removables. Patients often tell us that they use old toothbrushes for their dentures. Well-worn brushes may not remove the debris as well as a “just for the job” brush. We recommend an easy-to-grip handle with trimmed bristles, which find their way into the crevices where leftover food gets trapped and bacteria thrive. What’s more, when bacteria thrive on food debris, odor results. Combine this with a patient who has xerostomia, and tissue irritation can affect denture fit.

Biotene, a trusted name in dry mouth relief, not only offers a line of mouth-watering products, but offers a Biotene Denture Grip suitable for removable partial wearers.

When tissues change, partial dentures may lose their staying power. Some patients may already use adhesives, and an enzyme protecting gel may be just the product to help the fit. This denture grip contains antibacterial enzymes, which soothe tissue and maintain the oral environment to help avoid mouth sores. If the patient is already using the Biotene products for xerostomia, introducing another product from the Laclede line can complement these products.

Some of the concerns for those who wear removables are sore areas, tissue changes which affect fit, and cleaning protocols. Products addressing these issues are available and should be recommended by the dental staff.

The author was not compensated for product endorsement. Visit the web for more info, and

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis’ Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].