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Caring for and repairing prostheses

Dental prostheses are used to replace one or several missing teeth. If you need a prosthesis, it’s important to wear it, as it will contribute to your oral and overall health, in addition to embellishing your smile.

Thanks to today’s technology, more beautiful, comfortable and functional prostheses are available. Although nothing could ever be as comfortable as your natural teeth, take good care of your prosthesis for optimal comfort and a beautiful appearance:

  • Follow the recommendations for cleaning and maintaining your prosthesis
  • Make sure it’s always properly adjusted
  • Check it regularly for any cracks or weakness in the structure; if needed, have the prosthesis repaired before it gets damaged any further

For prostheses to be comfortable, they need to be properly adjusted, repaired and maintained.

1) Adjusting prostheses

With time, prostheses can become uncomfortable. They may move while you chew or chatter as you talk. They can also rub against your gums, causing pain and injury.

But what happened to your once-comfortable prosthesis? At first glance, it may seem to have become too big when in fact it’s your mouth that’s changed size. Here’s an explanation:

Bone resorption: why prostheses become unstable

When the jawbone is no longer stimulated by dental roots, it tends to lose some of its mass, gradually becoming thinner. This phenomenon is known as bone resorption. The gums have less contact surface to support the prosthesis properly, making it unstable. And, as long as there are teeth missing, bone resorption will continue.

The denturologist can adjust your prosthesis for improved stability, using one of these procedures:

Relining

Relining a prosthesis involves adding acrylic inside the prosthesis to increase its contact with gums. By filling the voids between your gums and the prosthesis, it will be better supported inside your mouth.

The prosthesis’ appearance remains unchanged because the teeth and pink acrylic base aren’t touched; only the interior surface is modified.

This technique is a quick, affordable and effective solution to stability problems. Relining can extend the useful life of your prosthesis.

Rebasing

Rebasing consists of reshaping the prosthesis. The denturologist changes the pink acrylic base but the teeth are kept and placed on the new base, which is perfectly adjusted to your gums. This procedure can only be done if the teeth are still in good shape.

Because the prosthesis has to be reshaped, rebasing takes a bit more time. Depending on the work to be done, it could take one or several days to complete. But the wait is worth it! Once ready, your new prosthesis will be perfectly adjusted, stable and comfortable again.

2) Repairing prostheses

Prostheses can usually be repaired. However, we recommend letting the denturologist take care of any repairs needed, because he or she has the expertise and the materials to do the job right. Attempting to repair a prosthesis yourself could have an adverse effect on the device and your health. Over-the-counter glue is toxic and it does not provide for reliable, long-lasting results.

Your denturologist’s know-how will ensure your prosthesis is comfortable, esthetic and durable.

Repairs are possible if:

  • The prosthesis has broken in two
  • It’s cracked or worn out
  • A tooth has come loose
  • A tooth or a hook is broken (on a partial denture)
  • A tooth is missing
  • A tooth has to be added following a new extraction

Repair procedure:

The denturologist will assess the condition of the prosthesis to determine if it can be repaired. Most of the time, repairs can be done in one day.

  • If the prosthesis has broken in two, the two parts are temporarily glued together
  • A mould is made of the prosthesis using silicone or plaster
  • The prosthesis is broken once again and the resin is ground down where it broke. The aim is to create enough space for new resin to be filled in so that it fuses to the old resin
  • Both parts are placed on the silicone or plaster mould and the void is filled with new resin
  • The prosthesis is hardened and reshaped using a resin drill
  • Finally, it’s sanded and polished for a smooth, shiny finish

If the prosthesis is old (more than five years), the teeth are too worn out or a major adjustment is needed, the effectiveness and durability of the repair cannot be guaranteed. In this case, we recommend completely replacing the prosthesis.

3) Maintenance tips

Cleaning your prosthesis

Cleaning your dental prosthesis is essential. Just like with natural teeth, plaque accumulates on artificial teeth every day. If your gums, remaining teeth or the prosthesis are not cleaned properly, you could develop an infection or an illness, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Stains on the prosthesis
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities on remaining teeth
  • Loss of remaining teeth
  • Heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Cleaning a prosthesis is simple, but should be done regularly and carefully.

  • Remove the prosthesis before going to bed; this prevents bacteria from growing and gives your gums a chance to rest. Soak your prosthesis while you’re asleep
  • Brush your prosthesis:
    • Use a soft-bristled brush that’s meant for cleaning dentures
    • Use water and a denture toothpaste that doesn’t contain abrasives
  • Soak your prosthesis:
    • After brushing it, place your prosthesis in a daily denture care solution overnight
    • If your prosthesis has metal hooks, soak the prosthesis in warm water only so that the metal won’t tarnish
    • You can also mix equal parts white vinegar and water to soak your dentures in; this removes any accumulated tartar
    • By soaking your dentures, you’ll prevent the acrylic part from drying out and losing its shape
  • We also recommend removing and cleaning your prosthesis after each meal. A light brushing with denture toothpaste will immediately remove any bacteria that could cause plaque. If you can’t clean your prosthesis after a meal, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water

It’s important to remove food particles and tartar that accumulate on prostheses to keep teeth and gums healthy. A good cleaning routine will help your prosthesis last longer.

Schedule regular appointments with your denturologist and your dentist.

Check-up with your denturologist:

  • The denturologist will check the condition of your prosthesis. If there’s a crack or a weak spot, he or she can carry out the necessary repairs
  • He or she will clean and polish the prosthesis, giving it back its original shine
  • The prosthesis’ stability is checked. If it moves, doesn’t adhere as well or is causing you pain, the denturologist will adjust it. Depending on the case, rebasing or relining may be needed to make the prosthesis comfortable again
  • The denturologist will give you advice on how to care for your prosthesis

Check-up with your dentist:

  • The dentist will check the condition of your gums and remaining natural teeth. He or she will also check the progress of bone resorption and the presence of oral disease
  • The dental hygienist will clean your remaining teeth. A professional cleaning eliminates tartar, which cannot be removed just by brushing the teeth

Wearing a dental prosthesis is important for your self-esteem, but also for your overall health. If you don’t, you’ll suffer irreversible changes to your appearance: your face and mouth will sag, making you look much older. Furthermore, by not being able to chew properly, you may develop serious digestion problems.

For all these reasons, it’s really important to have comfortable, properly adjusted prostheses that are worn regularly.