Affordable Options for Securing a Lower Denture

Hi, I’ve got problems and I’d love answers. I’ve had dentures for over five years, and my lower one drives me up a wall! It floats around, clacks whenever I eat or talk, and never feels tight or stays put. I have to use adhesive every single day to be able to bear it. The upper one is fine, and I like the way they look, but I just can’t stand the looseness of the lower one any longer.

I can’t afford implants, but I was told by a friend that there may be other, more affordable methods of securing my lower denture, she said her dentist was talking about them. So is this true? What are my options?


Dear Dennis,

Mini Implant compared with a traditional dental implant

Sorry to hear your lower denture is giving you such a difficult time! It sounds frustrating. Glad your upper plate is doing well. While conventional implants can be costly, your friend may have been correct: you likely have other more affordable dental options.

Why Don’t Lower Complete Dentures Fit As Well As Uppers?

Many patients wonder why their lower complete denture is looser than or doesn’t seem to fit as well as their upper. This is common and is due to your bone levels. When teeth are extracted, a ridge of alveolar bone is left behind. That’s what your dentures are fit to. This ridge acts as retention for your denture. The upper denture is fabricated to fit over this ridge, around the arch, and across most of the roof of the mouth. This extra span against the palate gives the upper denture “suction”, which holds it tightly in place.

The lower denture does not have this extra coverage and relies completely on the bone. Plus, the longer you are in dentures, the more bone you lose on your lower jaw through resorption. Depending upon the anatomy of the patient’s ridge, mandibular dentures may tend to be looser and may lift, “float”, or move around in the patient’s mouth.

What Can Be Done?

As you no doubt know, conventional endosteal implants can be cost-prohibitive for some. Many people don’t realize there are options such as what are known as “mini-implants”: small, pin-shaped implants that are easily placed and do not need to be inserted as far into the bone as the former. These are generally a bit more reasonable economically, as well. These small implants are placed into the lower ridge, allowed to heal, and the denture is re-lined to fit (or “snap”) down over them. This holds the denture firmly in place, and many people love them. You can have snap-on dentures with as few as two mini implants.

Barring this, you may want to look into having the denture relined. Being as it’s been over five years since you’ve received it, your bone and soft tissues have surely changed and shifted in this time. Asking your dentist for either an in-office or lab-fabricated reline may be the answer: a current, custom fit might just bring about the retention you need. Best of luck to you in your journey toward a better fit!

Just bear in mind, the longer you are in complete dentures, the more bone you lose, so you may want to save up for one of the better treatment options for several years down the line.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.