Dr. Mohamed Tarek DDS author

“A good adhesive can help secure a denture safely and comfortably, however, it should be noted that if denture users find that adhesives can’t effectively hold the denture in place or that they need to use more than the recommended amount to fix their denture securely, they should consult their dentist to find out why.

Dr. Mohamed Tarek – Author

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In a perfect world, dentures would hold perfectly in place without the need for any form of denture adhesive. The prosthodontists who specialize in providing the best possible denture solutions for their patients work hard to make sure the denture is as stable and comfortable as possible.

Unfortunately, nothing in life is ever perfect or permanent and it is common for people to have a love/hate relationship with their dentures. Replacing missing teeth with dentures restores form, function, and esthetics to the mouth and allows a person to live an uncompromised lifestyle where they can eat a varied diet, talk clearly, smile confidently, and be happy in the knowledge that missing teeth will not cause them to age prematurely. On the other hand, if the dentures are loose or unstable they can be a source of constant aggravation and discomfort.

It should be noted that if denture users find that adhesives can’t effectively hold the denture in place or that they need to use more than the recommended amount to fix their denture securely, they should consult their dentist to find out why. A well-fitted denture should more or less fit snugly without any help. Denture adhesives can give the retention a little helping hand to make the denture more comfortable and secure but if an excessive amount of adhesive is continually required to glue it in place, it signals that something is not quite right with the denture itself. If in any doubt, a denture user should always consult their dentist.

What are the best denture adhesives?

Now let’s get some in-depth knowledge of some of the most popular brands on the market nowadays. Adhesives can be in the form of creams, powders or strips.
Let’s start first with creams. Creams work essentially in the same manner as hair gels. A small amount is applied to the undersurface of the denture, and the denture is placed in the mouth and held in place for some time until it sets, in order for them to provide a glue-like effect between the denture and the tissues. Most people complain of the pasty feeling in their mouths when using creams, and some brands are really hard when they set causing irritation to the gums.
The most popular creams on the market nowadays are –

POLIGRIP

GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) discontinued production of zinc-based adhesives back in 2010 and now their current line of adhesives are all zinc-free. Poligrip adhesives are available in a number of different varieties including –  flavor-free, minty-fresh, gum protection, and extra-hold. When the Poligrip adhesive reacts with the saliva in the mouth it creates a firm bond and prevents food particles from getting trapped between the denture and gums.

Pros:

The Poligrip line of adhesives are reasonably priced and provide an excellent bond and seal between the denture and the gums. The range of different varieties caters to the consumer’s personal preference.

Cons:

Not as long-lasting as some of the other brands.

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Holding power: 12 hours
  • Flavoring: Neautral/Mint
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

CUSHION GRIP

Cushion Grip denture adhesive uses thermoplastic technology to hold dentures in place. In simple terms, a thermoplastic material becomes soft when heated and then hardens fast when cooled. This means that the tube of Cushion Grip must be heated in a glass of warm water before applying it to the denture. After the denture is put in place, the adhesive begins to cool and create an exceptionally strong bond between the denture and the gums.

Pros:

A zinc free, non-toxic adhesive that lasts up to 4 days which is longer than other brands. The waterproof formula means that the adhesive won’t be washed away while eating and drinking. The addition of antibacterial ingredients help improve the  hygiene.

Cons:

Expensive compared to some other products.

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Holding Power: 96 Hours
  • Flavoring: No
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

SECURE

Unlike other denture creams that are designed to thicken saliva in an effort to generate suction between the denture and the gums, Secure uses Polyvinylacetate as an adhesive to actually stick the denture in place.

Pros:

Secure is one of the cheaper options and it represents excellent value. The waterproof, zinc-free formula provides a strong, non-slip grip for up to 12 hours.

Cons:

Expensive compared to other products.

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Holding Power: 12 Hours
  • Flavoring: No
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

Number 4th best

OLIVAFIX

Olivafix is manufactured by the Swiss company bonyf AG. It uses a unique and innovative formula that includes a high concentration of natural olive oil instead of the commonly used ingredients like zinc and Vaseline.

Pros:

Extra virgin olive oil-based formula with no Zinc or petrochemicals make this a gentle and healthier adhesive. Strong 24-hour hold.

Cons:

Expensive compared to other products. This product does have a distinctive taste that might not please everyone.

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Holding Power: 24 Hours
  • Flavoring: No
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

Best denture cushions

The next form of denture adhesives is adhesive strips. These are probably the easiest to use, where after cleaning the denture, one strip is peeled open and moistened in water, and placed on the undersurface of the denture. The denture is then pressed in place and the patient bites down until the denture is fixed in place.
Popular adhesive strip brands include:

SEABOND STRIPS

Seabond specializes in cushioned self-adhesive denture strips. Their products are available for securing both upper and lower dentures.

Pros:

Available for upper and lower dentures. Good holding ability.

Cons:

They can be awkward to cut and trim. These adhesives are thinner than other brands. The flavored Seabond cushion can make food taste minty. 

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Holding power: 12 hours
  • Flavoring: Fresh Mint/Neutral
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

SECURE STRIPS

In addition to manufacturing denture creams, Secure also supplies self-adhesive denture strips. Many people find this option less messy and more comfortable than creams.

Pros:

Easy to apply and can be cut to fit any denture. No mess or oozing. These waterproof dentures should perform well even when eating and drinking.

Cons:

Only available for lowers. 

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Holding Power: 12 Hours
  • Flavoring: No
  • Dentures: Lowers

POLIGRIP STRIPS

These pre-cut adhesive strips by Poligrip can be used on upper, lower and partial dentures. As well as creating a seal between the denture and gums, these Poligrip strips also add extra comfort.

Pros:

It is easy to apply and remove the strips, and they can be cut and tailored to any denture

Cons:

These adhesive strips work out as an expensive option.

  • Zinc Free: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Holding Power: 24 Hours
  • Flavoring: No
  • Dentures: Upper, Lower, Partials

Why can dentures feel loose?

Dentures consist of a plate (called denture base), on which artificial teeth are attached to restore the shape and function of the jaws and mouth. These could be complete dentures replacing all the missing teeth, or partial dentures replacing only a few teeth.
Most complaints from dentures are as follows:

  • Mobility: Most people, especially those receiving a denture for the first time, complain that the denture moves around their mouth uncontrollably. Usually, this complaint subsides within a few weeks of wearing the denture, but under special circumstances such as severe bone loss and muscle problems, this mobility will not go away.
  • Discomfort: Having a piece of plastic in your mouth could be uncomfortable in the beginning, but as you get used to your denture, that feeling will probably go away.
  • Pain and sores: Dentures undergo a lot of steps during manufacturing, most of these are in the laboratory, therefore errors are to be expected. These errors appear in the form of irregularities or sharp areas in the denture, causing pain and sores. Your dentist should be able to deal with these easily.
  • Food getting stuck under the denture: This is due to the mobility of the denture, creating space between the gums and the denture, where food gets stuck, and if not cleaned properly, it can cause inflammation of the area under the denture.
    For these reasons and more, people who use complete dentures often feel the need to use denture adhesives. Partial dentures have other means of retention so adhesives will not be needed. From the dentist’s point of view, especially prosthodontics specialists, they would consider the poor retention as a failure of the process and will ask you to make a new denture, and would only use adhesives during the procedure of making the denture, or when there is severe bone loss, and the patient refuses other means of gaining retention, such as bone augmentation or using implants and overdentures.

Are denture adhesives necessary?

So the real question is “Are adhesives necessary?”

Well, if you are comfortable with your denture and don’t complain of movement or soreness, then the adhesive is not necessary. But if you have problems with your new denture, and you can’t give yourself time to adjust (a few months maximum), then denture adhesives become necessary.

Also, regardless of how well the denture is fitted by the prosthodontist, the fit can change in time, resulting in movement and discomfort. In an effort to ease this discomfort a denture adhesive may be necessary.

The uses of denture adhesives are:

  • Preventing denture movement by filling the small space between the denture and the gums, so no air bubbles are trapped and the seal is not compromised, enhancing the retention, in addition to preventing food getting lodged beneath the denture.
  • Severely resorbed ridges, where the bone is really insufficient to hold the denture in place, and the patient refuses other permanent options, then adhesives will be needed and probably for a long time.
  • Patients with poor muscle condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or Arthritis, where muscle balance cannot be achieved, so the denture will not be stable in their mouths.
  • Some doctors will routinely prescribe adhesives in the first week or 10 days, claiming that this will make the transition period easier and make the patient get used to the denture faster. You need to know that denture adhesives have their limits, meaning if the denture is severely mobile, adhesives will not be effective and you will need to go to your dentist either for adjustments such as relining, or even to make a new denture if the old one is worn out or highly ill-fitting. Some people who are comfortable with their dentures ignore their problems and continue living with an ill-fitting denture, and that could be very dangerous, and cause even more bone loss, and the condition may become so severe that dentures will no longer be an option.

What are denture adhesives and how do they work?

Just to backtrack a little and cover what denture adhesives are and how they achieve the desired result of securing the denture comfortably.

Denture adhesives are available in powder, cream, liquids, and liners and provide both a glue-like adherence and cushion effect between the oral mucosa (mouth tissue) and the denture plate.

Most commonly used denture adhesive formulations come as either a dry powder or cream that is hydrated with the mouth’s natural saliva enabling them to function as a sticky lining between the denture plate and the mouth.  Most well-formulated adhesives should be strong enough to glue the denture in place for a full day’s use while at the same time still be easily removed at the end of the day.  The composition of dental adhesives can be quite complex because of the wide range of properties the substance must have to work efficiently.

In order to function correctly, denture adhesives should have the following characteristics –

  • The adhesive should establish a quick and powerful bond with the mouth tissue as soon as it is moistened by saliva.
  • When hydrated, the adhesive should expand to form a seal that cushions and glues the denture to the oral mucosa.
  • The adherent bond should not be reduced when exposed to the volatile environmental variations that develop in the mouth throughout the day, eg., consuming hot and cold drinks and chewing food.
  • The ingredients should be non-toxic and not irritate the delicate mouth tissue.
  • The denture should remain firmly glued in place for at least 12 hours with one single application.
  • Even though the bond between the denture and mouth needs to be strong it should still be easy to remove as needed.
  • The denture adhesive should be easy to clean off of the denture plate.
  •  As well as providing the necessary retention, a good denture adhesive should also provide a cushion to protect the gums from stress when chewing.

In addition to powders and creams, there are also denture fixative seals that do a similar job but work in a completely different way. These are a little bit like a double-sided sticky tape where one side sticks to the denture and the other side stick to the gums. Fixative seals are very easy to use, you can trim them with a pair of scissors so they fit the denture plate perfectly then just moisten them slightly and slip them into place.

Fixative seals perform the following functions –

  1. Act as an adhesive to glue the denture in place.
  2. Cushion the denture to protect the gums.
  3. Seal the denture in place so that food particles can’t get trapped in between the gums and the denture plate.

Are denture adhesives safe?

A common issue and complaint that some patients report about using adhesives are the fear and concern of Zinc poisoning, as Zinc is a common component of some of the top brands of adhesives such as Fixodent and Polygrip, and there have been numerous lawsuits related to the matter. People who complain of dizziness and poor balance, tingling in the arms and legs, pain and burning of the hands and feet and generalized weakness attribute these symptoms to Zinc poisoning and are concerned that the Zinc in their adhesives is the root cause.
The fact of the matter is, Zinc poisoning only occurs with abuse of Zinc, meaning an overdose; Therefore, if you follow the recommendations of the adhesive manufacturing company as well as your dentist’s advice and only use the prescribed amount of adhesive, the risk of developing Zinc poisoning becomes negligible. In addition, the amount of Zinc in these adhesives are minimum, and poisoning could only occur with heavy use, and if you’re still concerned, many of the brands available now on the market are free of Zinc, and you could talk about your concern with your dentist and he\she could prescribe a different brand.