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Is Repairing Your Own Denture Or Partial A Good Idea?

Bad things happen at the worst possible time. If you wear a denture or partial to replace missing teeth you may know that sinking feeling that accompanies a broken or damaged dental appliance. You know you should take it to a dentist, but the repair will take time . . .

Tempted to reach for the superglue and fix it yourself? Before you do, consider this: superglue is at best a temporary fix. The glue breaks down the plastic-type material that makes up your denture or partial and shortens its life. (Meaning you’ll need to pay for a new one sooner rather than later.)

Repairing your denture also requires precisely lining up the pieces. If the glue bonds when the pieces aren’t lined up properly, it may make your denture uncomfortable or impossible to wear. Even if you can wear it, you may be damaging your oral tissues. A poor repair may also put undue force on that part of the appliance and cause it to break again in the same area.

If you are in a situation where you must repair your denture on your own, you are better off to buy a product made for that process. A dental quality one is best, but even those may produce a repair that is a different color than the rest of your appliance. And beware!--all do-it-yourself products are temporary and designed to get you through for a short period of time until you can see your dentist. If the repair is done improperly or excess repair material is present, you could be doing damage to your oral tissues that will make it harder for you to wear dentures or partials in the future.

Even the best repairs still tend to be weaker than the original with the same problem likely to happen again in the same area. Remember too that adjusting or repairing your appliance on your own may void any warranty that your dental office provides.

Can you avoid broken dental appliances? In many cases, yes. Remember that your denture or partial is custom fit to you, but over time, even with normal use, your mouth may change. If you have some of your own teeth, you should see your dentist for check ups and cleanings on a regular basis. Even if you have none of your own teeth, you should see a dentist a minimum of once a year to have your appliances and tissues checked. If you notice any of the things below, see your dentist sooner rather than later.

Loose Denture: In most cases, you should not need a denture adhesive to hold your dentures in place. If you dentures are loose or “falling”, your oral tissues may have shrunk and left a gap between them and the plastic denture base. If your tissues are not supporting your denture properly, the denture is more likely to crack or break.

Your dentist can add to or replace the gum colored material to make your denture fit more tightly against your tissues for proper support.

Bite That Feels Off: An improper bite can cause a sore jaw or headaches. It can also cause a denture tooth to break off your appliance or damage other oral tissues. A denture is designed to act like one big tooth. All its teeth should hit at about the same time. If one or a few teeth are hitting harder than the rest, the tooth could break out of the appliance.

If you see your dentist when you first notice this, your dentist may be able to adjust your bite while you wait.

If a tooth comes out of your appliance, your dentist will probably want to check your bite to be sure that it is not contributing to the problem, especially if the same tooth has fallen off multiple times.

Older Dentures: Most dental appliances are designed to be used for five (5) to ten (10) years. Older dentures develop weak areas that are more likely to break. Artificial teeth wear down over time and can fall out of the base if enough structure is lost.

But these are not the only ways that your appliance can be damaged. Dental appliances can break or bend when they fall. The most common time for this to happen is during cleaning, which is why we recommend that you clean them over a fluffy towel or a sink filled with water. Both will cushion the appliance if it slips out of your hand. 

Also, make sure you are cleaning your appliance with a cleaner designed for it. Regular toothpastes are abrasive and can wear down areas of the gum colored base, making it more likely to break.

And finally, keep your appliance away from pets. It’s best to store it in a covered container, such as a tupperware container, when it’s not in your mouth. Some pets are attracted to the scent of your appliance and will chew it up. (Before you say it can’t happen, I had one patient whose dog chewed up her partial twice within a month. The first time it was reparable. The second time, it was not.)

A little bit of prevention now can save you a mountain of heartache later. Partner with your dentist to make sure your dental appliance fits properly and fix any issues that are detected as soon as possible. We are no longer doing complete dentures (we will repair ones for our existing patients). We are still doing partial dentures.

*Note: the information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your dental professionals.