Dentures can make life easier for most patients by enhancing their ability to eat and improving their confidence in their appearances. Unlike natural teeth, however, dentures may slip out of position while speaking, chewing or biting. Even if the dentures are an excellent fit, a denture fixative can help keep them in place, and many new wearers find comfort in the additional security. There are three widely available types of denture fixative: wafers, powders and pastes.
Wafers are thin liners that can be cut to an exact fit by the wearer. The adhesive is contained in the wafer. Although the most expensive option, wafers are normally the easiest to use; simply place one of the precut strips alongside the denture, trim or cut is necessary, press the wafer onto the dentures and place them in the mouth. Most users find that it takes several minutes before the adhesive becomes active, so a different type of denture fixative might be preferable if the wearer needs instant adhesion.
Pastes offer the fastest adhesion and are the most popular choice among consumers. One reason for the popularity of pastes, in addition to speed, is that they are available in different flavors, such as mint, or with mouthwash included in the formula. Pastes are the most difficult format to clean, and many people use far more than is needed under the mistaken belief that it will help bond dentures more securely. Not only does this make it harder to clean the dentures completely, but the excess paste may also ooze into the mouth.
Powders, which are sprinkled onto the dentures before inserting them into the mouth, do not offer the instant adhesion of pastes. They are, however, easier to remove from the dentures when it is time to clean them. The flavors found in pastes are not available in powders, and it is a matter of individual preference as to whether the user finds the taste of powders unpleasant.
No matter which type of denture fixative is chosen, none of them can adequately compensate for dentures that are broken or that no longer fit properly. Most dentures need to be replaced about every five years, because gums and bones continue to change with time. The removal of all teeth accelerates this process. If the wearer notes that his or her dentures slip, even with the use of denture fixative, it may indicate that it is time to have them relined or replaced.