An Early Bite with Dr. John Paul: “Doc, Just Give Me a Reline”

By Dr. John Paul, FDA Editor

If you are a dentist, and you practice in Florida, you are more than likely to have a patient walk into your office and ask to have their dentures relined. Many are convinced that this is a simple procedure handled entirely by a technician, and the dentist is just a toll collector on their highway to better eating and speaking. “I’m paying you good money, just put the stuff in my teeth so I can be happy.”

I focus on the “make me happy” part. I want you to have comfortable, functional dentures that allow you to speak and eat with confidence. You know they “don’t fit.” I want to know why you aren’t comfortable. That requires an examination and evaluation. I will definitely want to look at your mouth and touch the parts that support your dentures. I may want to take an X-ray to determine the quality of your bones.

More often than you might guess, the patient’s dentures fit their jaws fine, but do not stay in under function. The teeth don’t mesh together properly and that is why they seem “loose.” No need for a reline, just adjust the bite. There are times when the bones have changed shape and the denture no longer fits. That’s when we take an X-ray to determine if the bones are healthy but a different shape, or if the reason for the change is disease in the bones, like cancer. We need the X-ray to make that diagnosis, and the treatment plan may be something much different than “just a reline.”

Without a proper examination, evaluation and treatment plan, it isn’t possible to provide appropriate treatment. What makes for a proper examination and evaluation is specific to each patient and is something you should discuss with your dentist. I can’t make my diagnosis based solely on information provided over the internet, and you shouldn’t rely only on what you read on the internet to make your decision.

Have a question you have a tough time answering? Send it to Dr. Paul at jpaul@bot.floridadental.org.

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