Caring for Your Dentures

Image for denture article All surfaces of the oral cavityincluding teeth, orthodontic appliances, and dentureshave 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 at least 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 as well as long lasting.

Steps for Daily Denture Care

  1. Dentures are usually made of porcelain or plastic and sometimes 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.
  2. Remove loose food particles from dentures by first rinsing them thoroughly in water. But remember, rinsing alone is not enough to clean your dentures.
  3. Moisten a soft-bristled brush, preferably one designed for cleaning dentures. Hard bristles will scratch your dentures.
  4. 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.
  5. Gently scrub all surfaces of your dentures to remove plaque, while taking care not to scratch the surface.
  6. Thoroughly rinse dentures, as traces of cleanser or soap may irritate your gums.
  7. 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.
  8. Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, remove your dentures overnight (6 to 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.

Warnings

  • Do not try to adjust dentures yourself by sanding, filing, or bending.
  • Do not use a dental adhesive regularly to secure dentures in place. Dentures are made to fit precisely and usually do not require the use of an adhesive. Denture adhesives can be used temporarily to keep the dentures stable until you can see your dentist, but repeated use can mask infections and cause bone loss in the jaw.
  • 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.
  • Do not use conventional toothpastes to scrub or mouthwash to soak, as they may be too abrasive for the delicate denture surface.

When to See Your Dentist

  • For regular fitting appointments when you get new dentures
  • If you have mouth sores that last for more than one week
  • If your dentures become loose in your mouth
  • If you have problems chewing food with your dentures
  • If you have chronic cheek biting
  • If your gums begin to bleed easily
  • If you have cracks at the corners of your mouth
  • At least once a year to check the health of your mouth and the fit of your dentures

The most effective way to keep your dentures clean is by daily brushing, in combination with soaking the dentures in a chemical solution made for dentures, such as Polident or Efferdent. In addition, cleaning your gums and oral cavity on a daily basis is also important for oral health. Finally, staying in contact with your dentist regularly is important to insure 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.

RESOURCES: American Dental Association http://www.ada.org Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Oral Health http://www.idph.state.il.us/ References: American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Oral Health website. Available at: http://www.idph.state.il.us/. Last reviewed July 2007 by Marcin Chwistek, 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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