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The Problem with Dentures, Chewing Gum and Bad Breath

Dentures very often get a bad press, but this is often because people are thinking about old school dentures which look terrible and don’t fit. The good news is that denture technology has moved on significantly in recent years making dentures a viable alternative for many patients wishing to replace missing teeth.

We get asked lots of questions about dentures at our dental practice on the outskirts of Leicester, so we decided to put those questions into a helpful blog post.

Dentures and chewing gum

We often get asked about chewing gum and dentures, it seems to be quite a common question at the dentist.

Can you chew gum with dentures?

Yes. Many dentures are retained extremely well either by using tight clips, known as attachments or by dental implants. If you have these types of fittings on your denture you may find you can chew regular gum. If not, and your denture is slightly looser then Wrigley’s make a chewing gum called Freedent, this is designed to be less sticky.

Which sugar-free chewing gum doesn’t stick to dentures?

As far as we can see there is unfortunately no sugarfree gum designed exclusively for denture wearers, however Freedent by Wrigley’s contains 2 g of sugar per stick but is designed specifically for denture wearers.

What’s the easiest way to remove chewing gum from dentures?

Chewing gum can be extremely sticky and difficult to remove. We’ve seen reports of heating your denture with a hairdryer on a low setting, we don’t recommend this as your denture may include thermoplastic elements, such as clasps which could distort with teeth. It seems that warm vinegar can help to dissolve chewing gum, we therefore recommend cleaning off as much of the chewing gum as possible by hand and then soaking the area with vinegar to remove the residue.

General questions about dentures

Can partial dentures damage the anchor teeth in the long run?

Partial denture

If the denture is well designed then this shouldn’t happen. Take a look at this image of a partial denture, you can see that the last natural tooth will have clasps gripping it when the denture is fitted. If the denture is loose then this can exert excessive forces on this last anchor tooth.

In addition to this partial dentures are both:

  • tissue bourne
  • tooth bourne

Tooth bourne is the part of the denture with the clasp gripping the anchor tooth, tissue bourne is the part of the denture with the new false teeth, this sits and rests on the gum.

The stresses of chewing and eating are therefore distributed over the anchor teeth (tooth bourne section) and the natural gum (tissue bourne section). Over time the gum will change shape as the bone naturally resorbs, this can mean that the pressures of eating are not put onto the gum as much and the anchor tooth or remaining teeth take more of this pressure, in time this can put more and more pressure on the anchor tooth and result in damage.

If you have a partial denture like this you will need to regularly visit your dentist and have it checked, the new tooth/gum section may need to be relined periodically to fit the new shape of the gum underneath to ensure the forces are equally distributed between your natural gum and the anchor teeth.

What are the downsides to dentures?

Modern dentures can be an extremely successful and viable way to replace missing teeth, some typical downsides which people often cite include:

  • Inability to eat particularly sticky, chewy or crunchy foods. If the danger is well fitting and well anchored (depending on how many teeth you have remaining) then modern dentures can allow you to eat a wider range of foods.
  • Having to remove the teeth in order to clean them. Unfortunately, all removable dentures need to be removed to be cleaned properly and remove all food particles.
  • A slightly higher risk of developing bad breath (halitosis). If the danger is cleaned adequately then this risk can be dramatically reduced.
  • Ulcers and irritation. These can occur if the danger does not fit well enough, more often these appear over time as the gum underneath the denture changes shape and the plastic denture rubs these areas. This can be fixed with either a soft lining to the denture or a reline.

What are my denture options with just upper canines remaining?

If you just have upper canines remaining, indeed if you just have a couple of teeth remaining where ever they are there is a great option which includes using attachments. Effectively the part of the tooth which you see (the Crown) can be removed and replaced with a ball stud attachment. On the inside of the denture there is then a clip which fits accurately over this ball and helps to stabilise the denture.

You will usually hear an audible click as the denture is placed.

denture options with just canines remaining - The fitting in your mouth

Attachments placed in the mouth. Image Credit www.drbandary.com

denture options with just canines remaining - The fitting in the denture

Reciprocating socket on the inside of the denture which clips onto the ball attachment in your mouth. Image Credit www.drbandary.com

Dental health and bad breath with dentures

If your breath smells and you have dentures then this is often a cause for concern, here’s what we have to say about this rather difficult subject.


Are my dentures causing me to have bad breath?

Not necessarily. Bad breath can be caused by a range of conditions from dry mouth to poor oral hygiene caused by not brushing and flossing properly (if you have remaining teeth). Good oral hygiene is still important even it if you have no teeth at all and using a tongue scraper daily can help to keep the bacteria down in this vulnerable part of your mouth.

If you keep your dentures nice and clean and you still have bad breath then it is worth visiting your dentist again for them to do an assessment, there are a range of dental services and treatments which may be able to help. Your dentist will also be able to give advice on diet and other possible causes of halitosis.

Why dentures smell and what to do about it

Dentures can smell if bacteria buildup on them. There is natural bacteria in your mouth, everyone has it. These bacteria hide in what is known as biofilm, this is a thin sticky layer which covers your teeth and denture. Daily brushing of your teeth and denture will help to remove this biofilm and keep the smell at bay. If the biofilm is not removed daily than it can begin to thicken, as it does it turns into tartar, this is a hard scale which you can often see on the inside of a lover teeth. It’s what are dental hygienist picks off when you have your teeth professionally cleaned. As the bacteria hide in this tartar they can begin to smell, particularly on dentures.

If you think this is what has happened to your dentures then bringing them to your dentist for a professional ultrasonic clean will almost certainly help.

Shrik Kotecha
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