Denture adhesives, also called denture adherents, are creams, powders, wafers or strips that are used to hold dentures firmly in place.9 The adhesive also helps form a seal that keeps food particles from sticking between the dentures and gums.6, 7 Adhesive is applied to clean dentures, which are then positioned in the mouth and held in place for a few seconds, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ACP recommends that denture adhesive be used only in sufficient quantity (i.e., 3 to 4 pea-sized dollops) on each denture to provide added retention and stability.6, 7 A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis by Shu et al. found that denture adhesives can improve denture retention, bite force, and masticatory performance in patients with complete dentures. 10
A film of saliva is often all that is needed to hold dentures in place. Denture adhesives may be useful for those with dry mouth or xerostomia.10 Although, denture adhesives can help provide additional adhesion for well-fitting dentures, they may be only a temporary solution to the problem of an ill-fitting denture. A denture that fits poorly (i.e., feels loose or causes discomfort), may need to be relined or replaced.6, 7 Ill-fitting dentures can contribute to the development of mouth sores or, with prolonged use, bone loss. Dental examinations and appropriate care will often help reduce or eliminate the need for denture adhesive products.
Some dental adhesives contain zinc and their overuse could contribute to excessive levels of zinc in the body.9 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration9 recommends the following for consumers who use denture adhesive products:
- Follow the instructions provided with the denture adhesive. If the product does not come with instructions or the instructions are unclear, consult with a dental professional.
- Do not use more adhesive than recommended.
- Understand that some denture adhesives contain zinc, and that although they are safe to use in moderation as directed, if overused, they could contribute to harmful effects if overused.
- Know that manufacturers may not always list their product ingredients.
- Know that there are zinc-free denture adhesive products.
- Stop using the denture adhesive and consult a physician if symptoms such as numbness or tingling sensations develop in the extremities.
- Start with a small amount of adhesive—if the adhesive oozes off the denture into the mouth, that is likely too much adhesive.
- Know that a 2.4-ounce tube of denture adhesive used by a consumer with upper and lower dentures should last seven to eight weeks.
- Track the amount of denture adhesive used by marking on a calendar when a new tube is started, and when the tube is empty.
- Consider speaking to their dentist to see that the dentures fit properly. Dentures can become ill-fitting as a person's gums change over time.
The ACP recommends avoiding zinc-containing denture adhesives as a precautionary measure.6, 7
During denture cleaning, adhesive should be removed with gentle scrubbing to avoid damaging the denture while being sufficiently thorough to best insure good fit of the denture. The ACP recommends daily removal of denture adhesives from the prosthesis and the oral cavity.6, 7