These are not the answer to a badly fitting denture, more a last resort where the ‘you’ factors
are particularly unfavourable such as very resorbed ridges, a single tooth remaining or lack of saliva due to xerostomia. They shouldn't be used until traditional methods of holding the denture in have been tried and tried again. If your denture has no grip at all, of course you may have to go down this route.
Denture adhesives are most often used with complete dentures or occasionally where only one or two teeth are remaining on the one side to prevent the denture from moving or dropping. The commonest place they are needed is under a lower full denture with a very flat and resorbed ridge which is unstable and constantly moving during chewing and talking. Most of the time, if you have a few teeth remaining, metal clasps are sufficient to give you the grip that you need for day to day living and so these denture fixatives aren’t necessary.
If you have had an immediate full upper or lower denture
(or if you are very unlucky both) sometimes denture fixatives can be useful once the initial clot has formed to help hold the denture in place during the months it takes your gums to remodel before the final reline to improve the fit. They may be the only way to get them to stay up.
A lot of patients complain about denture fixatives, they are messy and a pain to clean off and re-apply. Still, what is the alternative? The denture falling out every time you try to speak or eat… Hmmm I think I will go with the confidence and inconvenience!
There are all sorts of gluey strips and pastes, that can be put inside the fitting surface of the denture. These need to be held securely in place for a couple of minutes to give them the necessary strength. Your local pharmacy or supermarket will stock a collection, it is a matter of trialing a couple and seeing which work best for you in terms of their grip, ease of use, cleaning and price.
Is there an alternative to denture fixatives?
Yes, and it’s a great one, but again unfortunately not suitable for everyone, and that is dental implants. You either need sufficient thickness of your own jawbone to be able to place the implant, or to create this using bone grafting procedure. Implants can have metal clips or bars, magnets or balls that act like roots to firmly attach the denture. They do require a surgical procedure to place them and are expensive but can transform your quality of life completely. If you are having trouble, see your dentist to find out if this is viable option for you.