A soft denture liner is simply a layer of soft material which is fitted to the base of a hard acrylic denture, coming into direct contact with the soft tissues. It cushions the gums and protects them from coming into contact with the hard denture base providing extra comfort.
It’s ideal for people who cannot tolerate pain very well and for those patients who only have a thin layer of gum tissue over the jaw bone. If there is only a thin layer of gum tissue then it’s much more easily compressed by a conventional denture, and this can lead to pain being felt. Replacing the hard acrylic with a soft liner helps to lessen or eliminate this tissue compression. These types of liners can be tolerated by just about anybody and can make chewing food much more comfortable, and this is because the soft liner tends to compress and conform to the continuously changing jaw ridges.
They are also a very good addition to ordinary dentures that have become loose over time; dentures will gradually become looser due to bone reabsorption in the jaw which causes the jaw ridges, or alveolar ridges to gradually flatten off. This effect can cause the denture to move around more which can cause rubbing or chafing of the alveolar ridges which in turn can accelerate the bone loss.The soft lining is generally made from medical grade silicone or rubber, and dentures with soft liners often need to be constructed slightly differently from ordinary dentures as there is less hard acrylic material available for support. This can mean adding a metal framework to the inside of the denture to ensure it has sufficient strength. It may be possible to adapt an existing denture to take a soft lining provided it doesn’t compromise the strength too much.
They do require more care than ordinary hard acrylic dentures, and wearers should have regular checkups at their dentist. This is because soft denture liners gradually harden over time, eventually needing replacement. The reason for this is that the material used is slightly porous and will gradually deteriorate and collect microorganisms, and soft denture liners generally need replacing every year to ensure they remain hygienic.
They are unsuitable for patients who suffer from dry mouth as they are more difficult to maintain. The lack of saliva makes it much easier for microorganisms to build up on the soft liner unless the person is particularly meticulous about hygiene, or is prepared to get the liner replaced more frequently.