If you're a denture wearer, and your dentures have begun to fit less comfortably than in the past, you may wish to consider having them relined. Denture relining is a simple and affordable procedure that reshapes the underside of a denture to make it more comfortable as it rests against your gums. Relines are referred to as “soft” or “hard,” and can be completed either at the office, or in a lab. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so let's take a look at the specifics to find a solution that might be good for you.
When a tooth is extracted from its place within the alveolar bone tissue that houses it, the tissue undergoes what is known as resorption, or a “breakdown” at the cellular level that takes its component materials and disperses them elsewhere throughout the body. In layman's terms, this bony material is essentially “taken” back “into” the body for other use. Denture wearers experience most of this resorption within the first three to four months after extractions, and then gradually over time throughout the rest of one's life.
As a result of this resorption, the gum tissue surrounding the alveolar bone experiences a change in density and shape that begins to cause a previously fitted denture to become more uncomfortable over time. This is where a denture reline can help.
Soft RelineSoft relines are often the preferred option for denture wearers simply because they tend to be more comfortable. This is particularly true if you're a recent denture wearer with bone resorption still taking place at its most rapid rate, or if your gum tissue is just sensitive to the weight and feel of the denture. A soft reline can be done in the office (chairside) with a liquid polymer that is layered into the denture to add depth and cushion. It's a relatively quick procedure, and a secure, comfortable fit is achieved with input from you during your appointment.
The main advantage to a soft reline done chairside is how fast you can have your denture completed. In contrast, when a soft reline is done in a lab, you would need to be without your denture for whatever period of time it takes to complete the reline. A possible disadvantage to the soft reline – regardless of where it’s completed - is the fact that it may require more frequent fine-tuning due to its soft, porous nature. If this disadvantage matters to you, and you would rather sacrifice some comfort in favor of longevity, then a hard reline may be a better option for you.
Hard RelineA hard reline reshapes a denture in the same manner as does a soft reline, but it is done with a material more like the hardened denture base itself. The result is a more permanent reline fix that lasts more years than does a soft reline. It too can be done chairside, or at a lab, but many dentists recommend it be sent out due to complications that can arise with fit and heat transfer of the materials used. As with a soft reline sent to a lab, you would be without your dentures for whatever time period it takes to complete the fix.
So, as you can see, denture relining is an effective method to reshape a denture when it starts to give you difficulty. It can also be used to repair a cracked denture, and is an excellent way to delay the cost of a new denture altogether. If you're experiencing any discomfort with your dentures, ask your dental team about a possible reline – you'll be glad you did!