It is estimated that at least 20 million Americans wear some form of denture- ranging from a partial to a full set of teeth. But despite these high numbers, many dentures or partial denture wearers have not been properly trained in the care and cleaning of these dental devices. This can cause huge problems for the wearer- ranging from ‘dirty’ looking teeth to bad breath to an increased risk for illnesses. So, what can you do to make sure you or your loved ones are properly cleaning these helpful oral appliances? Keep reading to find out.
Nobody really wants to get dentures. Having dentures means you have lost the last remains of your natural teeth, and must now put in a device that doesn’t always feel great or stay put properly. Perhaps this is why many older patients who have had dentures for many years don’t wear them as frequently as they could. The good news is that today’s dentures are more comfortable and natural looking than ever before. New denture wearers never have to experience those awkward dentures of years past, and those replacing older dentures may actually want to wear their new ones, even if no one will see them. But while dentures do replicate the look and feel of natural teeth, what they do not do is replace the need for proper cleaning and oral hygiene.
There is a common misconception among some denture wearers that because dentures aren’t "real" teeth, they don’t need as much care as natural teeth do- but this is mostly untrue. Sure, you won’t need to get a fluoride treatment on your dentures, or brush them for 2 minutes- but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be properly cleaned.
To keep your dentures their cleanest, make sure you are doing the following on at least a daily basis:
- Remove your dentures after each meal, and rinse away any food particles
- Handle with care! Put a towel or soft cloth down underneath the dentures in case you drop them- and be careful not to bend the plastic clasps on the denture itself
- Make sure you soak and brush dentures daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste. Use a soak meant specifically for dentures- but never put the soak in your mouth. Denture soak serves two purposes- to loosen any debris missed by brushing, and to keep the dentures moist when not in the mouth. Allowing your dentures to dry out can actually damage them and cause them to lose shape- which means they could stop fitting properly and cause you discomfort when you wear them.
- Only soak dentures in cool or cold water- hot water could misshape them, causing an improper fit.
- This goes hand in hand with not putting denture soak in your mouth- but when you are done soaking your dentures, rinse them well before putting them back in your mouth to avoid ingesting the abrasive chemicals in the soak.
Always remove and clean your dentures before going to bed each night, and always remember to clean your mouth out with a soft toothbrush, damp washcloth, or gauze- each time you remove your dentures. Recent studies have shown that wearing dentures to bed doubles your risk of contracting pneumonia in seniors- so if you or someone you care for wears dentures during the day, make sure they are not sleeping in them. For elderly denture wearers who are unable to properly care for their dentures without assistance, be sure to add denture maintenance to the list of a trusted caregiver or health professional.
Remember, ensuring proper care of your dentures can eliminate bad breath and reduce your risk of illness. It also extends the life of your dentures and keeps them fitting properly- which can reduce your risk of discomfort and mouth injury.
Finally, don’t think because you have dentures you can forgo your annual dental exam. Dental exams are still an integral part of your overall healthcare routine. Even without teeth to clean your dentist should still be checking your gums for signs of periodontal diseases, oral cancer, and abscesses- all of which can still strike patients without natural teeth. When visiting your dentist, be sure to bring your dentures so we can check the fit and make sure there are no loose teeth that need repairs. If you experience any pain wearing your dentures or sensitivity in your gums that appears to be unrelated to your dentures, don’t wait until your annual appointment to bring it up - give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-550-3959.