A Guide to Denture Adhesives

Do you have ‘false teeth’ that aren’t stable? Wondering if you could you benefit from using some sort of adhesive? Read on before you buy!


What Is Denture Adhesive?

It’s fairly self-explanatory. This is a product designed to help stabilize loose dentures, ie make them more retentive. They are marketed as reducing irritation and food trapping and improving confidence by reducing denture movement on eating, talking, smiling etc.


What are the available options?

Developers have come up with a number of slightly different products that all aim to improve denture stability. Popular examples include:

A very popular brand

  • Cream, one of the most commonly used, sometimes referred to as denture ‘glue’
  • Wafers (sheets), which cover the whole fitting surface – You will have to buy separate sheets for the upper and lower sets
  • Strips – similar to the above but smaller
  • Powder – combines with saliva to form a paste in the mouth.


The best selling brands are:

There are some very popular products like the:

  • Fixodent – Regular creams and a variety of ‘spin-offs’, but probably all do a similar job
  • Poligrip – As above
  • Sea Bond – Produces the wafer form – especially popular for full dentures
  • Cushion Grip thermoplastic denture adhesive is one of the most popular options available.

So what is the best denture adhesive? The short answer is that there isn’t one that is best for everyone. Some folk prefer cream, and have a favorite brand, others opt for the wafer sheets and some like the powder. For most it is how well the cream or alternative works in terms of keeping things in place that is important, while for others taste is the deciding factor on which they prefer.

If you are new to these, perhaps try the basic creams first – making sure to follow the instructions on the label! As they are relatively low in price, most can try a few out as they go along.

Reading through some user reviews on amazon may help.


Why Might You Need Some Extra Grip?

In an ideal world, all dentures would be sufficiently stable so that any adhesives would not be needed. But there are several reasons why so many people do use these products:

  • In the early days when getting used to dentures, wearers may appreciate the extra grip. It can take some time for the muscles of the mouth, lips and cheeks to get used to the new appliance and help keep it in place.
  • Some people have always used ‘glue’ and as such would not feel as confident without it (even if it wasn’t doing much good).
  • When wearing immediate dentures. These are inserted immediately after a tooth is extracted. The gum tissue around the extraction site can resorb away quickly, in the weeks and months after, making the prosthesis increasingly loose. While waiting for a new ‘permanent’ denture, or a bridge or implant, using adhesive can make the immediate appliance more tolerable.
  • Lower full dentures in particular can be problematic, especially where there has been severe bone resorption – ie there is little bone/gum left to hold them in place. It can be almost impossible to produce stable removable ‘false teeth’, and implants are ideal in such circumstances. But of course these are not always a feasible option. In these cases patients may feel that they need dental adhesive products.
  • Other medical problems may lead to a need for using them, for example xerostomia (dry mouth), neurological problems, stroke, head and neck irradiation.


How to use them?

Each product is different, so always read the label to get the best out of it. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Less is often more with these. Apply only the amount advised by the manufacturers.
  • When using a cream, three small dots spaced evenly apart should suffice. Again, using more will only be a waste, may actually make the denture less stable (by separating it from the gums) and may irritate the oral mucosa.
  • Apply once a day. Thoroughly clean the teeth (both false and any of your own that remain) before and after each use.
  • Remove dentures at night. For more advice on keeping them clean click here.
  • Clear off any adhesive on the ridges by rinsing with warm water and wiping with a piece of gauze.


An alternative to creams

Any Downsides To Using Adhesives?

There are several possible side effect to be aware of.

There has been some scares about the amount of zinc in some products, leading to a harmful overdose of zinc. For the vast majority of people there should be no issue with the small amounts involved. Stick to the recommended amount. If you are concerned, there are options without zinc available to buy.

As noted above, excessive use of denture adhesives is not recommended. They can cause irritation to the oral tissues. Overuse can be counter-productive as it can hold the prostheses away from the ridges, thus making things looser! Plus you will be wasting your money by using too much.

These products also have the potential to act as a “nidus” for bacterial and fungal infection. They can thus interfere with ones oral hygiene. Do not use them unless you really need to, and if you do keep things as clean as possible by following the above advice and/or any hygiene advice given by your dentist.


When not to rely on these products

A note of caution. Do not use these dental products to try to compensate for very loose dentures, at least not without checking with your dentist first! In some cases, outlined above, it may be almost impossible to get stable dentures (due to local conditions in the mouth or more general medical problems). But for many, it is a sign that a new set of false teeth, or a reline of the current set, is needed!

Persisting with loose dentures, and using lots of adhesive to mask it, is not recommended in the long term. You are at increased risk of oral infections such as thrush, oral irritation and ulceration. Loose prostheses may also lead to an increased rate of bone loss, which means even looser falsies in the long run!


Summary notes

These products continue to be very popular and come in a variety of forms.  Adhesives are unnecessary for many wearers, but a must for others. They certainly cannot perform miracles with dentures that are very loose, and can do harm if relied upon in the long term.

The take home message is by all means try a few out, see what works for you. For most however, an adhesive free denture is better. Always keep your dentures clean, and attend your dentist for regular check-ups (even if you have no remaining teeth). Do not persist with very loose false teeth without asking your dentist for advice.


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