All About Adhesives


           Many patients ask about denture adhesives. They want to know if they should use an adhesive and, if so, what type or brand is best for them. If you are considering whether or not to use an adhesive, you should understand that there are many factors involved in this decision. These considerations include clinical, psychological and physical conditions that can all have an influence on how you determine your needs.

           There are two basic types of true adhesives - creams and powders. They aid in the retention of your dentures and are meant to be cleaned out of and reapplied to them on a daily basis. Other products that some patients use as adhesives are actually liners. These include pads that are cut to fit inside your dentures and materials mixed from two ingredients that set within your dentures. These are typically worn for days or weeks at a time before they are replaced and stabilize your dentures by making up for any differences between the shapes of your ridges and the tissue surfaces (insides) of your dentures.

           There is a common misconception that you only need an adhesive if your dentures are ill-fitting. You may use an adhesive to compensate for a denture that should be replaced, but there are legitimate circumstances under which adhesive use may be appropriate for you. If you use a denture adhesive properly, it can increase the comfort and stability of your dentures. There is another misconception that some liners can increasingly cause your ridges to atrophy over time. It is the unsatisfactory fit of your dentures, not the liner that this fit may constrain you to use, which can cause increased shrinkage of your ridges. It is known that poorly fitting dentures contribute to increased bone loss in your ridges.

           If you have immediate dentures placed (dentures inserted right after your remaining teeth have been extracted), you will need to use an adhesive at some point during the healing period before your dentures are relined. After you have teeth extracted, your ridges (jaw bones) shrink as part of the healing process. As this happens, your immediate dentures will become increasingly loose and denture adhesives will improve their stability until they are relined (added to internally) to compensate for the shrinkage after healing is complete. If you have unusually resorbed (shrunken) jaw bones and you do not have your dentures supported by implants, using denture adhesive can significantly add to the equilibrium of even the best fitted dentures. If you have a notable case of dry mouth, this might detract from the fit of your dentures and adhesive can help correct this situation. If you have used adhesives with previous sets of dentures, you may still feel more confident using them even with a new, superior fitting set on average or better size ridges.

           If you find that a cream or powder adhesive does not keep your dentures in place, but a liner does, this may indicate that your dentures are ill-fitting and need to be either replaced or relined. Relining adds more of the denture base (pink) material to the inside of your dentures so that they conform correctly to your ridges. This is a permanent addition to your dentures that is not removed and replaced periodically as liners are. While a liner may keep your dentures in place, they will not function at the same level as dentures that are accurately tailored to your ridges. Well-constructed dentures will allow you to chew more efficiently, feel better and give you the best possible esthetic result.


Studies indicate Secure denture adhesive is preferred by most denture patients.

           Between the two main categories of adhesives, creams and powders, creams are used most often. This is not to say that creams, as such, are better than powders. It only means that denture wearers who use adhesives prefer creams. This may be due to the relative texture of the adhesives, their taste, smell or ease of clean up. I am not aware of any clinical study that has demonstrated the superiority of one type of adhesive over the other. Neither type is in any way detrimental to your ridges or your dentures. The only clinical study that I am aware of comparing the effectiveness of different brands of adhesives concluded that the patients in the study preferred only one brand considerably more than the others tested. That brand was Secure which is marketed by the U.S. Dentek company. Which type or brand of adhesive you may favor can only be determined through trying different brands of each type and arriving at a favorite based on the one that works best for you.




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Dr. Barry F. McArdle, D.M.D. ~ 118 Maplewood Avenue, The Captain Moses House, Suite B-7, Portsmouth, NH 03801

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