All surfaces of the oral cavity—including teeth, orthodontic appliances, and dentures—have a tendency to become coated with plaque, which is a transparent, sticky film that attracts bacteria and food particles. When oral care is not performed regularly, plaque begins to harden, which makes it difficult to remove. This can result in tooth and gum disease.
As is the case with natural teeth, brushing your dentures and gums
once a day helps remove food particles and plaque, which will maintain good oral health. Doing so also keeps denture stains and bad breath odors at bay.
Although dentures serve to replace the functions of natural teeth, there are some key differences to be aware of when caring for your removable pearly whites to keep them bright and long lasting.
- Dentures are usually made of a plastic resin and sometimes they contain metal parts. They are very delicate and may break easily if dropped even a short distance. When holding dentures to clean them, hold them over a folded towel or a basin full of water to protect them.
- Remove loose food particles from dentures by first rinsing them thoroughly in water. But remember, rinsing alone is not enough to clean your dentures.
- Moisten a soft-bristled brush, preferably one designed for cleaning dentures. Hard bristles will scratch your dentures.
- Apply denture cleanser (choose one with the American Dental Association seal of approval). In a pinch, you may even use a mild hand soap or dishwashing soap.
scrub all surfaces of your dentures to remove plaque, while taking care not to scratch the surface.
- Thoroughly rinse dentures, as traces of cleanser or soap may irritate your gums.
- Before placing dentures back in your mouth, brush your gums, the roof of your mouth, and your tongue with a separate soft brush to remove plaque and stimulate circulation. Rinse mouth well.
- Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, remove your dentures overnight (6-8 hours) to allow your gums to rest. During this time, store dentures in water or special denture cleansing liquid. This will keep them from drying out and losing their shape. But do not soak longer than directed, as any metal parts may tarnish. Keep your dentures away from children and pets.
Keeping your dentures clean is only part of the equation. You need to take care of them as well. Here are some things you can do to make your dentures last as long as possible. Do not try to adjust dentures yourself by sanding, filing, or bending.An adhesive may be recommended when you first get them to improve stability. You may use adhesives once in a while as a temporary measure for old or poorly fitting dentures. Ask your dentist about your options and look for adhesives with the American Dental Association seal.Do not use hot or boiling water, bleach, or other abrasive household products or items. This will cause dentures to warp and/or discolor.Do not attempt to scrape the plaque or tartar off with a sharp instrument.You can use conventional toothpaste to scrub, but do so gently to avoid abrasion. . You can use an ultrasonic cleaner to care for dentures. But be aware that using it does not replace daily brushing.
Keep all regular fitting appointments when you get new dentures. Here are some things to be aware of that may prompt a visit outside of your normal appointments: Mouth soresProblems chewing food with your denturesChronic cheek bitingCracks at the corners of your mouthGums that begin to bleed easilyDentures that become loose in your mouth
The most effective way to keep your dentures in good shape is by daily brushing, in combination with soaking the dentures in a chemical solution made for dentures. Keep your mouth in good health by cleaning your gums and oral cavity at least once daily.
Staying in contact with your dentist regularly is important to ensure that your dentures and oral health are optimal. Dentists not only perform cleanings but can also spot early signs of diseases, such as oral cancer.
Felton, D, Cooper, L., Evidence-based Guidelines for the Care and Maintenance of Complete Dentures. J Am Dent Assoc. 2011;142:Suppl 1:1S-20S. Updated February 2011. Accessed November 27, 2012.
What Are Common Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease? American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: http://www.perio.org/node/258. Accessed November 27, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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