Q: I have been wearing dentures for a few years but of late I notice they are a little loose and hurt occasionally. I thought dentures usually last a long time and wouldn’t need to be replaced.

A: The first set of dentures that you get will usually be the best ones because the height of the jawbone is still relatively good when the teeth are initially removed. With time, however, the jaw bones reduce in height and usable "real estate" for the dentures to sit on gradually depletes. With less bone and jaw to hold on to the dentures become more and more unstable and possibly even unusable. At this point new dentures need to be made to fit around the new shape of the jaws.

If they are just loose and do not hurt much then possibly a quick visit to the dentist can sort things out. The dentist will make some minor adjustments to the denture, and you can use denture adhesives – a sticky paste to improve grip. This is the easiest solution.

If you have already tried that, dentures can be relined – a process where the denture teeth are retained, but the base is changed – a bit like adding insoles to your shoes! These relines can also be of a soft variety for added comfort.

A more long lasting alternative will be to get some mini-implants done. These implants are extremely thin, minimally invasive and usually require no healing period. They can be put on in a few minutes and the denture retro-fitted with a part to lock onto the implants. This way you do not have redo the entire denture and yet can get much better grip and stability for minimal fuss which can last for a long time.

The final option would be to replace your denture entirely with fixed teeth. Four to six implants are usually required per jaw and you can have ceramic or zirconia teeth fixed instead of acrylic, which is usually used in dentures. This is the most elaborate option but one which feels the most natural as there is no denture base and nothing to remove or put on. Temporary fixed teeth on implants are usually done in a day and the final fixed teeth can take about a week to 10 days to be ready. In rare cases where there is a very large amount of bone missing, bone might need to be grafted and 
this might add a few months of time to the treatment process.

All of these options can be a bit overwhelming sometimes so I would always recommend you to visit your dentist or implant specialist to discuss with them for your individual needs.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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