One thing that we have to agree upon is that relines are necessary for the edentulous patient. The argument that we have internally is, do we manufacture a hard or soft reline? And actually the answer is BOTH.
It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach
No one application fits all patients, as each of their needs differ. So, we as dental professionals need to be able to provide the restorative process that is best for our patients. I’m reminded of some pieces of apparel that are advertised as ‘one size fits all’. While we like to think and believe that this will fit everyone, it typically ends up being too big or too small depending on the person. This type of mentality of course should not be acceptable to a denture patient; especially to those patients who would resort to wearing their dentures for family photos and in public appearances, but for nothing else.
The edentulous arch changes with time. I’ve seen some dental practitioners advise that a reline should be done every two years and in some instances, like new denture patients, I would agree as this is the time frame that the ridge changes the most. But for a stable patient, whose oral hygiene is good and whose ridge has become stable, this is just not necessary. It’s akin to the restorative clinician advising that every root canal tooth needs to have a crown to make it stable.
Hard reline or soft reline?
If the patient is able to tolerate the hard surface and the oral topography is conducent to it, then hard relines are the best way to go. However, if a patient whose topography includes undercuts; creating “blocked out” hard denture relines and handing them a tube of denture adhesive to fill in the space to make them fit is not ideal for the patient. In a case like this, a soft reline is indicated, but it’s not conducive to have the patient return every six to eighteen months for a new soft reline because the material failed. In these cases, laboratory processed soft relines are the answer.
There are several laboratory processed soft reliners on the market from which to choose from, however I would suggest that you take a look at the Preference Long-Term Soft Reline material. This is an RTV (Room Temperature Vitrification) silicone whose density and resiliency make it ideal for both standard relines of the upper and lower arch, but also for those unusual cases where hardware of some type is involved but no repair parts exist. There are a different set of parameters for the curing of this material, however the increased lifetime of up to four years or more makes it much more acceptable to the denture patient when given the choice.
Just remember, when it comes to treating denture patients, it should not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.