What is a "Denture Reline"?

Dr. Leslie Laing
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Dr. Leslie Laing
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When teeth are extracted, the surrounding bone undergoes changes in a process known as resorption, the greatest amount occurring within the first six months following extraction. The aging process also contributes to a similar loss of bone, hence, the expression, “getting long in the tooth” when someone is described as getting older. Since a denture is made to replace missing teeth, the denture will over time become loose, especially if the denture was immediately inserted on the day that teeth were extracted. Rather than completely replacing a denture that provides you with a decent bite, function, and aesthetics, a soft reline procedure may provide at least temporary relief from looseness.

The lining material provides a spongy, cushioned layer between the hard base of a denture and the soft tissues in the mouth. With proper care, the lining material is generally tear resistant, odourless and tasteless, is relatively easy to adjust and clean, and has little effect on the denture material itself.

Soft liner materials are applied on a temporary basis to the inner surface of a denture. There are at least three situations in which the use of a soft reline is necessary:

1) for use with an immediate denture until sufficient bone healing has occurred after tooth extraction, which is usually a minimum of six months

2) following surgery such as removal of excess bone particularly in the middle of the palate area to aid in reducing swelling and inflammation by acting as a pressure bandage

3) following implant placement, whereby the denture is relieved in the area of the implants and soft reline material is placed to prevent direct contact between the denture-base and the implants.

In each of these cases, it is acceptable to leave the material for more than the usual maximum of thirty days; however, if left too long, it may itself cause tissue damage when it becomes rough and hard. The material must still be changed frequently to maintain its resilience.

Prior to a soft liner material being applied, the soft tissues of the mouth as well as the inner surface of the denture must be clean and dry. The liners come in a powder and liquid form which are mixed to form what resembles thick liquid honey. At this stage, the mixture is applied to the inner surface of the denture. The denture is inserted and gently brought into a normal biting position for approximately two minutes. To aid in your comfort, you may then be asked to bite down onto cotton rolls for a further two minutes. You will also be asked to move your mouth in various directions to mould the material to suit you. The material generally sets after approximately six minutes, after which time excess material is removed.

When not using them, you should keep the relined dentures in water rather than in a commercial denture cleanser which can cause bubbling and deterioration of the reline surface. The dentures should be rinsed in water after each meal, but brushing of the relined surface should be avoided. Inappropriate cleaning techniques may have a damaging effect leading to a more rapid deterioration, discolouration, malodour, or hardening of the reline material which may result in subsequent damage to the underlying soft tissues.

With proper care, the soft lining material can provide a comfortable, temporary solution to a loose denture.