How to adjust partial dentures at home

If you have recently opted for partial dentures to replace one or more missing teeth, then your experience will be a bit different from someone who received full dentures.

Generally, it is easier to get used to partial dentures than full dentures because the former only replace some of the missing teeth, leaving some natural teeth in place for support and stability. This makes it easier to adjust to the new dental appliance.

Additionally, partial dentures are often smaller and lighter than full dentures, which can make them more comfortable to wear. They also require less maintenance and care than full dentures, and they often cause minimal irritation and discomfort in the beginning, but then soon get used to them.

That said, any discomfort with partial dentures that starts as soon as they are placed in the mouth or later on can be somewhat managed at home in a number of ways:

adjust partial dentures home

How long should you wear your partial dentures?

Partial dentures can be left in the mouth for most of the day, but it is generally recommended that they be removed at night to allow the gums and supporting tissues to rest. Wearing partial dentures continuously can lead to irritation, soreness, and bacterial buildup in the mouth, which can contribute to bad breath and other oral health issues.

It is important to follow the specific instructions provided by your dentist regarding the wear and care of your partial dentures. In some cases, your dentist may recommend removing your partial dentures during certain activities such as eating sticky foods or playing sports, to prevent damage to the dentures or injury to the mouth.

Tips for caring for your partials

Eating Habits 

Note that it may take some time to get used to eating with your partials. So initially, it is recommended to start with soft foods and gradually move on to firmer items as you get accustomed to the partial dentures. You should avoid sticky or hard foods that may dislodge the dentures or damage them.

Additionally, you should avoid biting or chewing directly on the dentures as this can cause damage.

Clean dentures after meals

It is also important to clean the partials after eating to prevent any food particles from getting stuck underneath the dentures. You can use a soft-bristled brush and denture cleaner to clean them, and remember to clean the ridges where the partial sits, as well as your cheeks, tongue, lips, and roof of your mouth.

Rinse your mouth after eating

It is also recommended to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to help maintain good oral hygiene. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water at least once a day will also help to keep the gums clean and healthy.

Store your partial in a denture case when not in use

Lastly, when removing your partial temporarily, always remember to keep it in a denture case to avoid losing it. If you’re going to bed, soak it in water or a denture solution made with denture-cleaning tablets. This helps to not only remove light stains and loosen plaque, but also prevents the acrylic from drying out, becoming brittle, and affecting the fit.

Why are your partial dentures uncomfortable?

It is not uncommon for some patients to experience discomfort from wearing their partial dentures, especially within the first 24 hours of wearing them and even within the first few weeks.

Some common causes of discomfort with partial dentures include:

  • Sore spots – An ill-fitting partial denture that rubs against certain areas of the gums can lead to sore spots or irritation that cause discomfort. Pressure points it can also result in sore spots.
  • Pressure – If the partial denture is not properly balanced or is too tight, it can put pressure on certain areas of the gums or teeth, leading to discomfort.
  • Adjustment period – It takes time to get used to wearing partial dentures, and the gums and jawbone may need to adjust to the new appliance. This can cause discomfort for a few weeks until the mouth becomes accustomed to the partial denture.

It’s best that you don’t try to adjust or repair the partial denture yourself as this could damage it or interfere with its fit. Rather, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible to make the necessary adjustments and eliminate the pressure or sore spots.

During your appointment, it’s best to wear the partial so your dentist can assess its fit for proper diagnosis.

How to adjust your partial dentures at home

In some cases, you may not have easy access to a dentist to assist you with the discomfort arising from wearing your dentures. In that case, you need some temporary solutions to help you get by:

  1. Start by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to soothe any sore spots or irritation.
  2. Use a denture adhesive to help the denture stay in place and reduce pressure on the gums.
  3. Try using a denture cushion to relieve pressure on sore spots or irritation.

a. Denture adhesive

Partial dentures are often held in place by the remaining natural teeth, but denture adhesives can provide additional stability and prevent movement or slipping of the dentures.

Denture adhesives are products that are designed to help keep dentures in place. They are available in different forms, including pastes, powders, and adhesive strips or pads. They work by creating a seal between the dentures and the gums. This helps to increase the retention of the dentures, making them more stable and secure.

Adhesives can also help to prevent food particles from getting trapped between the dentures and the gums, which can cause discomfort and irritation.

  • When using denture adhesives, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Too much adhesive can cause the dentures to stick too tightly, making them difficult to remove. It can also cause irritation to the gums.
  • It is recommended to start with a small amount of adhesive and gradually increase the amount until the desired level of retention is achieved.
  • Denture wearers should also clean their dentures regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and debris that can interfere with the effectiveness of the adhesive.

b. Denture cushions

Partial denture cushions are soft, removable pads that are placed on the surface of a partial denture to increase comfort and prevent sore spots. These cushions are made from materials such as silicone or foam and can be customized to fit the shape of the denture and the patient’s mouth.

The cushions provide an additional layer of padding between the denture and the gums, which can help relieve pressure and irritation. They can also improve the fit of the denture, making it more stable and reducing the risk of it moving or slipping during use.

Partial denture cushions come in different thicknesses and sizes, and they can be trimmed to fit the individual’s specific needs. They are typically easy to apply and remove and can be cleaned with a gentle soap and water.

Patients who experience discomfort or sore spots from their partial denture may benefit from trying a cushion. However, it’s important to note that the cushion is not a substitute for a well-fitting denture. If the partial denture is causing persistent discomfort or pain, a dentist should be consulted to evaluate and adjust the fit of the denture.

c. Adjusting thermoplastic flexible partial denture clasps

Partial dentures consist of false teeth attached to a resin base, which is secured to abutment teeth using metal clasps. However, tight partial denture clasps can be a source of pain and discomfort, hence the need to adjust them in order to improve their appearance, fit, and functionality. 

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of fixing clasps on your thermoplastic flexible partial denture at home:

Step 1: Assess the Issue

If you experience pain while biting down, it could be due to an open bite or overextended flange. Examine the occlusion and flange of your denture to identify the potential cause of discomfort.

Step 2: Loosening Tight Clasps

If you feel discomfort due to the tightness of a clasp, you can attempt to loosen it slightly:

  • Submerge the specific area of the clasp in hot water for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Then, remove it and hold it under running cold tap water while gently bending the clasp outward. This should help alleviate the tightness.
  • Conversely, if you need to tighten a clasp, follow the same procedure but bend the clasp inward instead.

Step 3: Using the Right Tools

Thermoplastic materials require specific tools for adjustment. Regular tools used for conventional removable dentures and partials may not be effective. Ensure you have the following tools handy for making adjustments:

  • Carbide Burs: These are designed to cut through thermoplastic materials effectively.
  • Green Mounted Stones: Ideal for chair-side adjustments, these stones help in shaping and smoothing the denture.
  • Large Rubber Point: Use this tool for smoothing the surface after making adjustments.
  • Small Rubber Point: This is also useful for smoothing and refining the surface of the denture.
  • Carving Knife: In case fibers appear during the adjustment process, use a carving knife to remove them.

Step 4: Making Adjustments to the Clasps

  • Set your handpiece to a low speed (around 32,000 to 35,000 rpm) and use light scraping back and forth movements with the appropriate tool to reduce the desired area.
  • Keep the tool in constant motion and avoid applying excessive pressure to prevent burning or distorting the denture.

It’s important to be cautious and work slowly to achieve the desired results.

Step 5: Smoothing and Polishing

After making adjustments, use rubber wheels or points to smooth the surface of the denture. Brown rubber wheels or points are often effective in leaving the case smooth and shiny, eliminating the need for additional polishing. If any threads remain after adjustments, carefully remove them using a sharp blade

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that it’s normal to experience some initial discomfort for a few days or weeks as your soft tissues adjust to the sensation of the partial. Denture adhesive or cushion can help to prevent any movement or provide a cushion to manage this. But once you get used to the sensation, you will need to visit your dentist for a denture adjustment.

Consult with a dentist if the discomfort persists beyond the initial 30 days or so, or if any adjustments need to be made to the denture, or if you need a new denture altogether.

With proper adjustment and care, many people are able to comfortably wear and use their partial dentures.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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