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Denture Symptoms

What causes pain related to my dentures?

Denture pain is usually due to poor fitting or poorly adjusted dentures. It may also be a result of new dentures, worn over soft tissues that have not developed thick, toughened layers of protective keratin.

There are many causes of denture pain. Here are a few of the more common ones. Your dentist can help you to better understand the causes of, and solutions for denture sores.

Loose dentures

Poor fitting, or poorly retained (loose) removable dentures can rub on the gum tissues causing sore spots. Complete dentures apply pressure to the supporting alveolar bone, which can cause it to resorb(shrink) away over time. When this occurs, the dentures rock back and forth, creating pressure points and more pain. Minimizing the number of pressure points and keeping chewing forces evenly distributed on the soft tissue requires good adaptation of the denture to the edentulous ridge. This is why it is so important to have your dentures evaluated for proper fit and bite adjustment by a dentist on regular intervals.

Dentures out of adjustment

Removable partial dentures, that are held in the mouth by attachments to teeth or implants, and supported by the soft tissues where teeth are missing, can also get out of proper adjustment. This happens when the soft tissue and underlying bone shrink (resorb) away from the denture after a period of time, and cause the denture to be suspended only from teeth. The supporting anchor teeth (abutments) may crack or loosen, the denture may begin to rock, and the denture will no longer function properly against the teeth of the opposite jaw. Again, it is very important to have removable partial dentures evaluated for proper fit, retention, and bite adjustment by a dentist on regular intervals to avoid these sorts of problems.

Bone resorption

When bone resorption under a lower denture becomes severe, the denture may begin to place direct pressure on the mental nerves. This can be extremely painful, and typically happens after many years of complete denture wear. The pain is generally felt in the area just behind the missing canine teeth, and is worst when applying biting pressure in that area. If you are experiencing these problems, ask your dentist about Mental Nerve Pain, and the possibility of treating it with dental implants.


Another potential source of pain with dentures is a condition called candidiasis (or thrush), a fungal infection which can cause painful erosions of the soft tissue under the denture. If you have painful mouth sores of any kind, see your dentist as soon as possible. Not all forms of candidiasis are painful, so if you notice changes in the appearance of your soft tissues, see your dentist as soon as possible to have it evaluated.

Over-the-counter remedies may cause problems

Over-the-counter remedies for denture pain and loose dentures seldom offer acceptable long-term solutions to the problem, and can even aggravate it. As an example, applying excessive amounts of denture adhesive to a denture changes its physical position in the mouth, and the teeth no longer engage properly with the teeth of the opposite dental arch. The resulting imbalance in chewing force distribution can cause further resorption of the edentulous ridges.

What causes denture sores?

Denture sores are usually due to poor fitting or poorly adjusted dentures. They may also be a result of new dentures, worn over soft tissues that have not developed thick, toughened layers of protective keratin.

What causes loose dentures?

Poorly retained complete dentures are generally due to inadequate suction, and is a common complaint—especially for lower complete dentures. Dentures which once stayed in place well, but have recently begun to feel loose often become that way as a result of changes in the shape of the underlying bone and soft tissue in response to bone resorption.

Partial dentures may become loose as a result of improperly adjusted clasps, which may distort over time under normal usage. Denture retention can often be improved substantially by placement of one or more dental implants, to which the denture is attached with custom hardware. Retention can sometimes be improved by relining the denture.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on November 27, 2017.

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