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Dentures are removable appliances that come to rescue after tooth loss. Tooth loss is one of the problems that come with periodontal diseases. Periodontal diseases are a very common cause of tooth loss. Aging is often associated with tooth loss as it is a risk factor for periodontal diseases.
Properly fitted dentures aid in improving speech and eating capabilities and prevent your face from sagging over time. All these factors have a huge impact on your self-confidence. Having said that, dentures can also inflict a considerable amount of pain in your gums or make you uncomfortable in the first few weeks of placement.
Denture pain may also occur if you are currently wearing dentures due to the structural changes in your gums and bones or if the denture does not fit properly.
Note: Inflammation and pain due to faulty and ill-fitting dentures can be relieved by using the remedies given below. However, in order to eliminate the root cause of the pain from an ill-fitting denture, it is imperative to visit your dentist.
Home Remedies and Tips to Overcome Denture Pain Naturally
1. Rinse your mouth with saltwater
Salt provides immense relief to denture wearers during the adjustment phase. It helps reduce swelling and pain in the gums.
According to a 2016 study, rinsing the mouth with a sodium chloride solution promotes healthy gums (1) because of its wound-healing ability. It inhibits bacterial growth in the mouth and reduces the risk of mouth sores or dry mouth, two common problems faced by denture wearers.
How to do:
- Remove your dentures and gently rub your gums with salt for a few seconds. Rinse it off with warm water. Do this once daily.
- Alternatively, add a ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 glass of lukewarm water and use the solution to rinse your mouth. Do this three to five times daily until the swelling subsides.
2. Prepare a DIY clove mouthwash
Cloves are another excellent remedy for denture users who are suffering from gum pain. Eugenol and acetyl eugenol are the two main compounds in clove that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. (2)
Thus, it works as a pain reliever and also helps disinfect your mouth.
How to use:
- Grind a few cloves to get a ½ teaspoon of the powder.
- Mix a few drops of olive oil in the ground cloves.
- Apply the mixture around your sore gums.
- Wait for 5 minutes, and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat the application twice daily until you can wear your dentures without discomfort.
3. Use a black tea bag
To successfully reduce gum pain caused by dentures, use a black tea bag.
Black tea is full of tannic acid, an astringent that helps reduce dental cavities and bacterial infections such as strep throat in your mouth. It can also help prevent oral cancer (oral leukoplakia).
Research has found that black tea is beneficial for overall oral health. (3)
How to use:
- Steep a black tea bag in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and set it aside to cool off.
- Hold it on the affected gum area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.
- Do this once or twice daily for a few days.
Do not eat or drink anything except water before and during this treatment.
4. Apply a paste of turmeric
To reduce gum pain, you can use turmeric for its pain-relieving properties. The compound curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic, and antiseptic properties and thus has a potential role in dental practice. (4)
It can even prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
How to use:
- Make a paste of ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and a few drops of water.
- Apply the paste on the painful gums.
- Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, and then gently massage the gums for a couple of minutes.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Use this home treatment twice daily for at least a week.
5. Dab aloe vera gel
Another effective remedy to get rid of denture pain is aloe vera. The herb has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can restrict the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, soothe inflamed gums, and reduce gum pain.
Aloe vera even prevents dry mouth in patients with dentures. (5)
- Slit open an aloe vera leaf using a knife and extract the gel. Blend the gel. Using a cotton ball, apply the gel directly on the painful gums. Wait for 10 minutes before rinsing your mouth with cool water. Avoid eating anything for 1 hour. Repeat this remedy two to three times daily until the pain is gone.
- If you have dry mouth symptoms, drink ¼ cup of aloe vera juice daily. To make the juice, blend 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel with 1 cup of water or citrus juice such as orange juice.
6. Massage your gums
To reduce gum swelling, gently massaging the gums will help a lot. Massage encourages blood circulation, which reduces swelling and pain.
For gum massage, you can use olive oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found that olive oil massage can help in maintaining and improving oral health. (6)
How to do:
- Rub some olive oil directly on your gums.
- Use your index finger to gently massage your gums for a few minutes.
- Wait for another 5 minutes, and then rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.
- Do this two to three times daily until you get relief from the pain.
7. Maintain proper hygiene of your mouth and dentures
To prevent bacteria from residing on your dentures, you must clean them regularly. (7) Proper care will help keep them clean, free from stains, and looking their best.
Even if you use false teeth, you need to maintain oral hygiene to prevent pain and swelling of the gums. Oral hygiene will also reduce bad breath.
How to use:
Use a soft toothbrush to clean your dentures, tongue, gums, and the roof of your mouth twice daily.
8. Eat comfort foods
Soon after using dentures, you need to keep a close eye on the foods you are eating. You need to stick to comfort and easy-to-eat foods until you get used to the equipment in your mouth. This will give enough time for your mouth to adjust to the newly installed dentures.
On the other hand, chewing hard foods at the beginning of using dentures can cause sore spots below the dentures and you may experience pain. This is why it is recommended to eat stews, pasta, vegetable soups, applesauce, pudding, and yogurt, which require less chewing. Stay away from chewy and hard foods for a few days.
Along with the comfort foods, you need to maintain a moist mouth to boost saliva production. Proper saliva stimulation can help reduce denture friction and prevent gum irritation. Keep drinking cool water, but avoid too hot or too cold water.
You can also take nondiuretic fluids to promote healthy saliva flow. You can even suck on a lozenge to increase the flow of saliva.
Causes of Denture Pain
Denture pain may be a result of various factors:
- Denture stomatitis is a denture reaction that is due to wearing dentures 24/7 and poor oral hygiene, causing redness of the gums due to lack of tissue rest and fungal growth.
- Ill-fitting dentures can harm the underlying gum tissues and cause pain in the gums.
- Dirty dentures laden with microbes such as bacteria and fungi.
- Heat accumulation
- Having diseases such as anemia, diabetes mellitus, nephritis, and vitamin C deficiency can also cause a sore mouth while wearing dentures.
- Delayed hypersensitivity.
- Sore spots due to bone spurs that have not healed after tooth extraction or sharp bone prominences can cause denture pain. These are more seen in patients that undergo multiple tooth extractions and receive complete dentures. Thus, most times, full mouth extractions may also require a procedure called alveoplasty (a procedure to smoothen any bumps or sharp edges of the jawbone), which is done along with extractions before the dentures are placed.
- Mechanical wear and tear caused by the movement of the denture during muscle activity.
A study conducted in 2016 highlighted that several factors are related to mucosal pain in patients with partial removable dental prostheses. Denture delivery was one of the factors that contributed to pain in 42.8% of individuals. (8)
Signs and Symptoms of Denture Pain
When using dentures for the first time, you may experience certain issues such as:
- Swelling in the gums
- Red sores on the gums under your dentures
- White patches of yeast in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Gums appearing to grow over your dentures
- Difficulty articulating speech
- Difficulty chewing
- Possible difficulty swallowing
- Dislodging dentures when drinking using a straw
Standard Treatment for Denture Pain
Check with your dentist on a regular basis to keep a watch on any problems that may arise in the future.
Your dentist will try to decipher the exact cause of your denture pain. If the reason is an ill-fitted denture, he will adjust the denture by relining or rebasing it as required.
Your doctor may prescribe an adhesive to keep your ill-fitting dentures stay in place. Also, you can use over-the-counter medications to relieve the pain temporarily.
A visit to the dentist is must to avoid severe infections in the oral cavity.
Note: Denture adhesives are very hard to clean from the oral cavity and from dentures. When they are left on for a long period of time, they will harbor fungal infections that cause denture stomatitis intraorally.
Types of Dentures
You can replace your missing teeth in the dental arch with dentures. These can be of the following types:
- A conventional denture is a completely removable denture that is inserted in your mouth once the leftover teeth are extracted and the oral tissues have healed themselves. The healing process may take about 6 months.
- Immediate dentures are inserted on the same day when the remaining teeth have been removed from the set. Prior to the day of denture placement, your dentist will take impressions and fabricate an immediate denture before the day of the extraction. Immediate dentures are never well-fitted dentures and will need to be relined as you are healing. These dentures are only to support patients temporarily until they receive their permanent dentures.
- A partial denture is a denture that replaces the missing teeth and rests on the tissues and retained teeth that have good bone support.
- Overdentures are removable complete dentures that are snapped/supported on implants. These can be removed and snapped onto implants by the patient. Implants are placed at the time of extraction or as a separate procedure. This type of denture is very commonly used when there is less jawbone to support conventional dentures.
Choosing the Right Dentures
As helpful as they are, dentures can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, especially in the beginning. Also, discomfort arises if the dentures do not fit you properly. (9)
Your dentist will choose a denture for you, keeping in mind the following factors:
- If you have neighboring teeth on either or both sides of the gaps on the jaws.
- The health of the adjacent teeth, especially the bone support of the teeth that your dentist may decide to retain, is crucial. This is because the retained teeth have to be strong enough to take the additional load of the missing teeth during chewing and biting.
- The presence or absence of an entire set of upper or lower teeth.
- The health and hygiene of your mouth and oral cavities.
Lifestyle, age, cost, aesthetics, and the ability to chew are some of the secondary factors that need to be considered when getting a denture inserted.
Taking Care of Your Dentures
It is essential to care for and keep your dentures clean to promote oral health. You can look after your dentures by following these simple tips: (10)
- Clean your dentures regularly to prevent plaque and tartar accumulation. Brush them daily with soap and toothbrush. This practice will help remove the stuck food particles, avoid staining, and keep your dentures long lasting. It is recommended to not use toothpaste as they are abrasive and wear out the dentures.
- Remove your dentures every night and soak them in denture cleansing solution or plain water overnight. This helps loosen the food particles or tartar stuck in the denture. If your denture is made of metal, use only warm water.
- Maintain oral hygiene by keeping your teeth, tongue, and gums clean by using a soft-bristled brush before inserting your dentures.
- Also, you must bear in mind that dentures can break if dropped and hence must be handled carefully.
- Avoid using hot water to clean your dentures. This can disfigure their shape.
- Remember that abrasive cleaners, toothpicks, and harsh toothpaste can damage dentures.
- For partial dentures, it is important to regularly see your dentist/hygienist to professionally clean and maintain the health of the retained natural teeth and to extend their longevity.
- Consult your dentist if you observe that your denture has loosened, cracked, or chipped. Do not try to self-adjust it or repair a cracked denture with glue from the hardware store as the harsh chemicals in it can be harmful to the mouth.
Should Dentures be Worn at Night?
It is recommended to take out your dentures at night and soak them in denture cleaning tablets in order to:
- Keep your gums clean. The saliva in the mouth will keep your gums free from infection and the accompanying bad breath.
- Give rest to the tissues from constant compression of the denture. Lack of tissue rest will increase bone loss and gingival inflammation.
Removing a denture should be preferred especially if you are in the habit of grinding your teeth. If you wear a partial denture, make sure to remove it every night to avoid weakening and damaging your gums and teeth.
When to See a Doctor
Always see your dentist if you think that the dentures you are wearing have a loose fit. Loose dentures can cause irritation, sores, and infection and can even affect your eating and speech abilities.
When you have mouth ulcers or sores, see your dentist to get the denture adjusted accordingly. If your dentures are new or you have had a tooth extraction in the last 6 months, consult your dentist to avert the chances of any infection in your bones and gums.
Wearing dentures can be painful especially in the initial days, but proper oral care can help you ward off denture-induced pain in the gums.
Check in with your doctor immediately if you have visible signs of infection. Alternatively, you can try some home remedies to soothe your gums and get relief from denture pain. Incorporate oral hygiene, take proper care of your dentures, and see your dentist regularly to steer clear of denture pain.