Dentures are an effective solution for individuals seeking tooth replacement, as they offer a realistic appearance and feel. However, new denture wearers often struggle to adapt to wearing their removable appliances on a daily basis and, sometimes, they may never fully adjust to the sensation of them in their mouth.
If you experience discomfort or seek modifications to your dentures, a viable alternative to consider is the soft liner option. They are also recommended for people with uneven jawbone (jagged edges), pronounced gum or bone erosion, and sores on gum tissue, all of which can lead to ill-fitting dentures and discomfort.
Permanent soft liners are typically used to line the inside of removable lower dentures by bonding it to your prosthesis, providing a cushion for the gums and creating a more comfortable fit for the wearer.
Unlike temporary soft liners, which need to be replaced every few months, permanent soft liners can last for several years.
A soft liner can be described as a soft elastic and resilient medical-grade material forming part or the entire soft tissue-contacting surface of a removable denture.
A soft liner is made from a pliable material that is placed on the inner surface of a removable denture to improve its comfort and fit. It is typically made of a soft, flexible material such as silicone or a soft acrylic resin. Soft liners can be used for both complete dentures (full arch replacement) and partial dentures (replacing only a few missing teeth).
The purpose of a soft liner is to provide cushioning and resilience between the hard acrylic denture base and the underlying tissues of the mouth. This can help alleviate discomfort, sore spots, and pressure points that may develop due to the natural changes in the oral tissues over time, or in cases where the denture does not fit properly.
Soft liners can be applied as a temporary or permanent solution:
- Temporary liners are used when the denture needs adjustment or when the underlying tissues require healing. They are relatively easy to remove and replace.
- Permanent liners, on the other hand, are designed to last longer and provide ongoing cushioning. They are more durable but may require replacement over time due to wear and tear or changes in the oral tissues.
Soft liners require proper maintenance and regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of bacteria and fungi. Your dentist will provide instructions on how to care for and clean your denture with a soft liner to ensure oral health and hygiene.
Characteristics of permanent soft liners
One might choose a permanent soft liner over a temporary one that needs replacement every 2 years because of the long-lasting comfort and durability it provides.
The permanent soft liner material is designed to adhere firmly to the inside of the denture, which can help to prevent the liner from shifting or moving around. This can be particularly beneficial for elderly who experience sore spots or discomfort from wearing loose dentures for long periods of time.
Permanent soft liners also have unique characteristics that make them different from other types of liners:
- They are made from a silicone-based material that is soft and pliable, allowing it to conform closely to the shape of the wearer’s gums
- The material is also porous, which enables it to adhere better to the little remaining gum.
- The material does not irritate your tissues much, which can improve the overall comfort and stability of the denture.
Why do you need soft liners?
Soft liners are mostly used in situations where dentures cause pain in your gums despite meticulous adjustments. Lower dentures can become increasingly loose and uncomfortable when your gums start growing thinner – and their shape more pointed – due to a condition known as gum resorption.
Basically, soft liners do not actually reduce the force transmitted when chewing. Instead, they distribute the forces transmitted to the underlying tissue, relieving the pain of dentures crushing on your gums.
Other applications of a soft liner include:
1. Correct denture fit due to reduced gum thickness
One of the key uses of a soft liner is to reduce the problems arising from the effects of age that cause changes in the denture bearing tissue. Using a soft liner enhances both chewing efficiency and oral comfort for patients suffering from reduced gum thickness.
2. Reduce pressure on gums for new denture wearers
Soft liners can also be used for relining transitional or immediate dentures during the recovery periods following tooth extraction and implant surgery. A soft liner essentially reduces direct pressure to the tissue.
Benefits of soft liners
- Permanent soft liners make your denture more stable and comfortable by providing a gentle and kinder interface for those with sensitive underlying tissues
- Permanent soft liners can slow down gum shrinkage, making the denture more comfortable to wear. Basically, liners tend to compress and conform to a changing jaw bone surface, which helps to prevent pain from a slightly unbalanced bite resulting from jaw bone shrinkage.
- Permanent soft liners can help to reduce the risk of denture-related problems, such as oral infections, because they provide a barrier between the gums and the hard surface of the denture. This can be particularly important for people who have sensitive gums or are at risk of developing oral health issues.
Challenges of permanent soft liners
Although permanent soft denture lining materials make wearing complete dentures less painful, they have some problems due to the environment in the mouth. For instance:
- A fungus called Candida albicans can grow on them.
- The most commonly used materials are silicone-based, which are more stable than acrylic-based materials, but can come off of the denture more easily.
- Silicone-based materials have better properties than their acrylic-based ones, though all soft lining materials can change color over time and the cleaning products available can also affect their properties.
More research is needed to make soft lining materials more resistant to fungus and improve their performance characteristics.
Cleaning dentures with permanent soft liners
Here are some tips for cleaning dentures with permanent soft liners:
- Brush your dentures and soft liners at least twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive denture cleaner.
- Avoid using toothpaste, as it can be abrasive and damage the soft liner by scratching the surface
- Clean your dentures after each meal to prevent the buildup of bacteria and food particles that can cause bad breath, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
- Before cleaning your dentures, rinse them thoroughly under running water to remove any loose debris or food particles.
- Do not use hot water to clean your dentures, as it can damage the soft liner. Instead, use lukewarm water to clean your dentures.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals, such as bleach, to clean your dentures as they can damage the soft liner. Stick to a non-abrasive denture cleanser and warm water.
- Soak your dentures for at least 20-30 minutes a day to remove stains and keep them clean and free of bacteria. Some denture cleaners may require a shorter or longer soaking time, so always check the label on your specific soaking solution before use. Over-soaking dentures can cause damage, discoloration, or warping, so it’s important to follow the recommended soaking time and to rinse thoroughly with water before using them again.
- Brush your gums and tongue with a soft-bristled brush or a clean, damp cloth to remove any bacteria or food particles that may have accumulated. This can help to prevent bad breath and gum disease.
- Regular visits to your dentist are important to ensure that your dentures and soft liners are properly maintained and functioning correctly. Your dentist can also provide you with additional tips on how to clean and care for your dentures.
It is important to follow these cleaning tips to keep your dentures and soft liners in good condition and to prevent any potential problems, such as infections or damage to the soft liner.
Overall, permanent soft liners can be an excellent choice for people who wear dentures and are looking for a more comfortable and durable solution.
Perhaps the best thing about them is that they work well with nearly all patients, and the technology is proven, with decades of innovation. With proper cleaning and home care, regular checkups, and replacement when necessary, you should enjoy continued comfort.
That said, it is important to discuss all of the available options with your dentist or prosthodontist to determine which type of liner is best suited to your needs.