Dentures: Causes of problems faced by wearers

Patient with dentist

Designing dentures

A well-designed denture can restore chewing ability, improve speech, have aesthetic appeal and help maintain overall oral health.1

Creating functional and comfortable dentures requires careful custom planning and consideration of the following factors:1,2

  • Clinical
  • Anatomical
  • Technical

Principles of good denture design

Denture outline on orange background

Three overarching principles form the foundation of good denture design

For good denture design, the three overarching principles are:

  • Retention The denture should be resistant to the forces that can cause it to move vertically away from supporting tissues, that is, the movement of the saddle away from the ridge.2,3
  • Stability The denture should be as stable as possible, resisting any lateral movement and avoiding constant reminders of its physical presence in the patient’s mouth.3-5
  • Support The denture should be resistant to the forces that may cause it to move towards the supporting tissues, that is, movement of the saddle towards the ridge.4
Dentist with patient

Restricted oral anatomy and denture retention/stability

Restrictions in patient oral anatomy can limit denture retention and stability.6,7Well-fitting denture performance can be limited by patients’ oral anatomy,2 and can be gradually affected by bone resorption over time.7,8

Oral anatomy

Impact of oral anatomy

Factors limiting retention:

  • Surface area defined by individual oral anatomy6
    • Small lower jaw
    • Flat alveolar ridges
    • Small basal seat

Patient impact:

  • Low denture retention6,8 and stability7
  • Poor chewing ability7,8
  • Poor denture satisfaction7

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Poor denture hygiene can compromise oral health9–11

  • The impact of poor oral hygiene

    Poor denture hygiene can compromise oral health9–11

    Poor hygiene with partial dentures may compromise the health of remaining natural teeth by:10

    • Harbouring germs that can compromise remaining teeth and oral surfaces12–14
    • Encouraging increased plaque accumulation, which may lead to gum problems10,11,15
    • For those with full dentures, poor hygiene can also result in plaque and calculus building up on the denture16,17
  • The concerns of inadequate hygiene

    Poor denture hygiene may put full and partial denture wearers’ oral health at risk.9–11

  • Poor oral health and patient wellbeing

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    Hygiene-related design principles and the causes of problems faced by denture patients

    Poor oral health may affect patients’ overall wellbeing as well as their oral health. Poor denture hygiene may also increase a patients’ risk of pneumonia.12

    Consideration of hygienic principles during the denture design process may help avoid the risk of hygiene-related complications by:4

    • Creating dentures that are easy for the patient to clean and care for
    • Avoiding unnecessary coverage of gingival tissues

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Inadequate denture cleaning may lead to denture stomatitis19,20


Up to 88% of denture wearers do not clean their dentures effectively.21


Up to 67% of full denture wearers have denture stomatitis.19

Denture stomatitis Still

Denture stomatitis

Denture stomatitis is commonly associated with a yeast infection that causes the area underneath the denture to become very red.

Left untreated, it can cause soreness of the mouth and may lead to poorly fitted dentures in the future.19–21

Stomatitis is caused by microbial biofilm on the denture-fitting surface (rather than the mucosal surface) and poorly fitted dentures.20

The prevalence of denture stomatitis is strongly linked with the amount of denture plaque.19

Denture hygiene infographic

Some of the denture-related patient factors associated with stomatitis include poor denture hygiene and wearing dentures at night.19

Effective education can reduce the risk of inadequate dental hygiene practices

Medical conditions and hygiene proficiency affect denture performance

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Impact on patient quality of life

Find out about the impact that dentures have on patients’ daily lives

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Explore an overview of diagnosing issues with denture performance

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Explore an overview of maintaining the performance of dentures

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Denture care

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