A denture reline is when material is added to the surface of the denture that touches your gum tissue. Usually this is done when the gum tissue underneath the denture has shrunk significantly and the denture no longer fits well. This is very common for people who have had their dentures for a long time (usually 5+ years) or who have had teeth extracted in the last 6 months. The rate that the tissue shrinks slows down very significantly after approximately those 6 months.
There are several types of relines. The first is what is known as a hard reline. Either the dentist will take an impression with your denture in place and send it to a dental lab or they will add material and mold it in your mouth that day. Hard relines can extend the life of a denture pretty significantly as long as the teeth are in good shape.
A variation on a reline, is known as a rebase. This always must be done in a dental lab. This is when all of the pink acrylic material is replaced. Only the teeth remain from the original denture. This is a good option when the denture has cracks, chips, or is highly stained.
Both the hard reline and rebase must be done by a dentist. It is definitely not something you can do at home.
The last type is known as a soft reline. Just like it’s name implies, a material is placed on the tissue side of the denture that when fully set up has a much softer consistency. This is great as a temporary solution to a loose denture or to help the gum tissue heal after extractions. The downside to a soft reline is that it doesn’t hold up nearly as well long term. The material is more porous and thus picks up stains and odors. It will also eventually start to separate from the denture and need to be replaced. Soft relines are something that you can do at home. Amazon sells several different types of soft reline products that you can see here. I recommend the products from either Permasoft or Prosoft.
The kits come with instructions but there are a couple of major things you need to keep in mind while doing a soft reline.
- The denture should be cleaned well prior to doing this. Any contaminants will cause the material to not stick as well.
- Ideally you should also roughen up the surface of the denture with a dremel or something similar. This will help the material stay in place longer.
- When you place the material in the denture and put it in place, you want to bite down GENTLY in the correct location. Practice biting down several times in the same spot before placing the material. The back teeth should all contact evenly and at the same time. Also, if you bite too hard all the material will be squeezed out and you can cause areas of pressure leading to sore spots.
- Keep it in place until the material has set up most the way. Once it is relatively solid take it out and use a sharp knife or scissors to quickly trim the excess material away from the borders. Place it back in your mouth and then allow it to set up the rest of the way.
- If you messed up anything along the way, you can pull all the material out of the denture and start over. This won’t cause any problems.