One of the most common questions that I get from patients is “Will I need denture adhesive?” Denture adhesive is a weird subject to most dentists because we are not taught about it in dental school and there is very little to no education on the subject even from the manufacturers. As I make quite a few dentures and have worked with even more about wearing dental prosthesis, I have done my best to get educated about the different products that are available as well as tried to create best practices for using adhesive. While my goal when make dentures is ideally to need no denture adhesive as many patients do not like the taste or feel in their mouth, realistically many patients find that it gives a bit extra comfort and helps their smile feel more natural and more secure. In this blog post, I’d like to discuss how the adhesives work, when do most people use adhesive, and my philosophy on adhesive.
Types of Adhesive
Manufactures make a few different types of adhesive. The most common is a cream that is placed in key areas to help give some suction between the gums and the denture. The cream sticks to the gums pretty well and is not easy to remove and forms a bit of a bond with the denture as well. Occasionally I’ll have a patient who uses adhesive strips routinely. The strips are placed in areas where the gums have shrank back and there is a gap between the denture and the gums and the strips act as a liner. The one that I will rarely see is denture powder despite my opinion that it is actually the strongest. Of the three types of adhesives, it is the most difficult to find but a quick search on google can find some vendors. Of all few brands of powder, Super Wernet’s seems to be the strongest, but again it is difficult to find. The powder works well because in my opinion because it is the easiest to coat the denture with and to brush off as well. It expands when it gets wet which fills in the gaps as needed. The biggest issue with powder is that of the three types, it makes the biggest mess if it spills because it gets everywhere. All the same, if I needed to use denture adhesive, I would likely be using the powder.
Purpose of Denture Adhesive
People use denture adhesives because they feel that their dentures are too loose without it. The most common place to see adhesive used is on a lower denture because lower dentures have much less suction than top dentures due to less surface area being covered and the tongue being a strong muscle able to remove it. While implants are usually the better option for helping give some suction to a lower denture, I can understand many patients don’t have the desire to go through the implant procedure either due to cost or fear. The second reason that I see denture adhesive used is that the denture no longer fits well. If a set of dentures was made as an immediate set and never relined, after six months the dentures will no longer fit properly. Also if it has been over five years since the dentures were relined, there is a decent chance that the gums and bone has resorbed or shrank back more. In these cases the adhesive acts as a liner to fill in the gaps and make it fit better. In these cases, it would be best to reline or rebase the denture as that would fill in the gaps and help it have better retention. Last but not least, many patients wear adhesive because they will not tolerate any movement of the denture in their mouth. I had one woman who had dentures for twenty years but her husband never knew about it. She more or less used half a tube a day and I needed to use both hands to remove the denture from her mouth. She would never go without the adhesive ever and I knew that when we made her another set, she would be putting the adhesive in on day one. While she did say that she used less adhesive with the new set than with the old set, she still used quite a bit.
To go back to my first sentence, when people ask me “will I need denture adhesive?” my answer is “hopefully not, but maybe.” My goal when making a denture is to have a patient smile, talk, and chew without adhesive. My recommendation is that for the first month of wearing a new denture, no adhesive is worn. During this month, I have my patients sing regularly as well as chew gum to help the muscles learn to adapt around the dentures as well see me once a week for minor adjustments. After one month, I’m ok with my patients trying out adhesive, but I find that they typically use much less adhesive than they would had they started out using adhesive.
Most patients don’t want to wear adhesive and I work hard to minimize the need for it. There are predictable ways to make dentures that need little to no adhesive without requiring implants. While there are many patients who swear by their adhesive, if you are a first time denture wearer or are concerned about wearing adhesive, please call us at 504-392-5104 for a consultation and we will be happy to help you out.