Caring for Your Dentures

It is important to clean your mouth and denture daily so your mouth will stay healthy. Soaking dentures in water or a denture cleaner is not enough. They must be brushed with a soft toothbrush or with a toothbrush made especially for dentures. Having dentures does not mean that you can ignore your oral health and hygiene. It is still important to seek dental services regularly for evaluating the soft tissues and to examine the denture for proper fit, comfort, and function. The following information is provided to educate you regarding the care of your mouth and dentures so that you will gain the maximum benefit from them.

Why should I clean my denture daily?

Daily cleaning of your denture is necessary to prevent build-up of plaque, food, calculus (tartar), and stain which can cause:

  • problems with appearance or esthetics
  • mouth odor
  • irritation to the tissues under the denture
  • infections in the mouth
  • hard deposits of calculus (tartar) can build up on your dentures just like on teeth
  • candidiasis (yeast infection)

How Should I Care for My Mouth and Gums?

Even with full dentures, it is important to brush your gums, tongue and palate with a soft-bristled brush every morning before you put in your dentures. The tongue can be cleaned with a tongue scraper sometimes beter than a brush. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture's metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. If you wear a partial denture, be sure to remove it before you brush your natural teeth. Clean, rest, and massage the gums regularly. Rinsing your mouth daily with lukewarm salt water will help clean your gums. Eat a balanced diet so that proper nutrition and a healthy mouth can be maintained.

How do I keep my dentures clean?

  • Rinse the denture under water after meals to remove loose food debris.
  • Brush regularly several times a day - after each meal, between meals, or at least before bed. This removes the plaque and some stains.
  • Do not sleep in your dentures unless your dentist or Prosthodontist instructs you to do so.
  • When cleaning dentures hold between your thumb and forefinger over a sink filled with water (or a bowl of water) and place a towel in the sink to act as a cushion in case the denture should drop. This way if the denture slips out of your hand, it will land in the water/towel and not break.
  • Brush with water, soap, or denture paste. Scouring powders or other abrasive cleaners should not be used because they scratch the denture. Scratches make the denture more susceptible to collecting debris, plaque and stain.
  • You can use a denture brush or a regular soft toothbrush to clean the denture, but use a separate brush for cleaning any natural teeth you have. Never use a hard bristled brush to clean the denture. This can scratch the denture. Many toothpastes are also very abrasive and can scratch a denture.
  • Make sure you reach all areas of the denture.
  • The denture can be soaked in a cleaner (such as Efferdent, Polident) or a detergent with a chemical action that removes or loosens light stains and deposits. Rinse the denture with water afterwards. Chemical immersions can be done daily or several times a week.
  • Ultrasonic cleaning is done during a dental appointment to remove heavy stain and calculus (tartar).
  • The most effective way to keep your dentures clean is by daily brushing several times, in combination with soaking the dentures in a chemical solution once daily, usually at night.
  • If your denture has clasps, you need to take particular care when cleaning to avoid damage.

What should I do if I have a soft lining in my denture?

Some people have very sensitive gums and may need a softer lining made for their dentures. If you have one of these special linings, it is important to check with your dentist before using any cleaning products or fixatives as some products can damage the lining.

What should I do if I have a temporary soft lining in my denture?

Tissue conditioning materials are indicated for very short time periods or 1 to 2 weeks. Follow the directions you are given when you receive these liners. Usually cold water rinses ONLY are indicated for these liners. The rest of the hard denture can be cleaned with a brush. If these have been in for more than 2 weeks call and make an appointment to have them removed and replaced.

Can I Microwave my dentures?

There are reports that microwaving complete dentures is effective for cleaning and disinfecting. Great care must be given for the using this technique for cleaning a denture.

  • Do not microwave any denture that contains metal.
  • Only very short times and intensity settings can be used

Link here for directions in microwaving a denture.

Not only do your dentures need maintenance, but care also needs to be given to the tissues under your denture.

  • Take your denture out of your mouth for at least 6 to 8 hours every day. Wearing them at all the time without allowing your gums a chance "to breathe" can result in infections of the soft tissues under the denture. When out of your mouth, keep the denture in water, denture solution or diluted mouthwash.
  • Be sure to brush and massage your gums daily with a soft toothbrush, and brush any remaining natural teeth you may have. The gums should be cleaned daily with a soft toothbrush or a washcloth. This removes the plaque and debris on the gums. It also massages and stimulates circulation of tissues. Massage your gums by placing the thumb and index finger over the ridge and use a "press-and-release" stroke.
  • If you have an overdenture or partial denture it is very important to keep any remaining natural teeth free of plaque. To clean your natural teeth, go to the following links:
  • Brushing Instructions
  • Flossing Instructions

Some other helpful hints:

  • When brushing the appliance do not hold it firmly by the sides or with too much pressure as this can cause a fracture or even break the denture.
  • Do not clean dentures with boiling water. Do not soak or rinse the denture in hot water, this can distort the shape and fit of the denture.
  • Clean all hard denture surfaces, both inside and outside, with a denture brush and denture cleaner that you can buy at a drug store. Do not use an abrasive cleaning agent, even toothpaste is very abrasive, and never use a powder like Ajax™ or Comet™.
  • Do not use alcohol, whiteners, full strength bleach, full strength mouthwashes (they usually contain alcohol) or other harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Do not put your dentures in a dishwasher.
  • Never scrape the denture with sharp instruments in an attempt to remove hard deposits. This can cause scratches which only further attract more hard deposits. Instead, take it to a dental professional for them to remove the deposits.
  • If a denture smells, it can be disinfected by being soaked in a solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach (such as Clorox™) in 1 cup of water. Soak the denture for 30 minutes. Rinse well before putting it back in your mouth. Also, avoid using bleach regularly, as this may whiten the pink portion of the denture and cause degradation of the entire denture.

Can I Make Adjustments or Repairs to My Dentures?

One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed soon after you receive your denture so that your oral health care provider can make any necessary adjustments. Never attempt to adjust or repair your dentures yourself. Never bend any part of the clasp or metal attachments yourself; doing so can weaken the metal structure. "Do-it-yourself" repair kits can permanently damage your dentures and over-the-counter glues may contain harmful chemicals.

Dentures that don't fit properly can cause irritation and sores in your mouth and on your gums. Be sure to contact our office if your denture breaks, cracks, chips or if one of the teeth becomes loose. Many times we can make the necessary adjustment or repair on the same day. For some complicated repairs, your denture may have to be sent to a special dental laboratory for repair.

  • Do not try to adjust a denture with sandpaper or files. This will ruin the denture.
  • Do not use denture liners or denture adhesives.
  • Never scrape the denture with sharp instruments in an attempt to remove hard deposits. Instead, take it to a dental professional for them to remove the deposits. Ultrasonic cleaning is done during a dental appointment to remove heavy stain and calculus (tartar).
  • When your dentures are not in your mouth, keep them in water or denture solutions. They need to be kept in a wet environment in order to maintain the proper fit.

Dentures that don’t fit properly can cause irritation and sores in your mouth and on your gums

With age, the jaw bones slowly change. With time the pressure on the underlying gums and bone causes them to resorb, leaving space where there was once tissue, as the dentures stay the same. Therefore, dentures that once fit no longer do. You may need to have your dentures re-fit by relining or you may need to have a new denture made.

Come to see me for the following:

  • Fitting appointments after you get a denture if you encounter any sore spots or problems
  • When you have mouth sores that last for more than one week
  • When your dentures become loose in your mouth
  • One time a year to check the health of your mouth and the fit of your denture
  • Problems chewing food with dentures
  • Chronic cheek biting
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Red and inflamed tissues
  • Discomfort with wearing the denture
  • Cracked corners of your mouth

Will My Dentures Need to Be Replaced?

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased or remade due to normal wear, natural age-related changes to your face, jaw bones and gums, or if the dentures become loose. To reline or rebase a denture, the prosthodontist refits the denture base or makes a new denture base and reuses the existing teeth. Generally, complete dentures should be used for 5 to 7 years before a replacement is necessary.

How Often Should I See the Dentist?

A healthy mouth has clean, stable teeth. You should have an even bite, secure dentures and be free of pain. Your mouth should be comfortable when you chew and your breath should be fresh. See your dentist if you have:

  • Painful or loose teeth
  • Ulcers which last more than two weeks
  • Gum abscess
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling
  • Soreness or cracks in the corner of your mouth.

It is important to visit your dentist regularly even if you don’t have any of your natural teeth. Dentists do not only check teeth, but also the soft parts of the mouth, including the tongue and cheeks. These examinations are just as important, so the dentist can spot any infections, mouth conditions or even mouth cancer at the earliest stages. Your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about how often you need to visit, but every 6 months should be the norm. Regular dental visits are important so that your denture and mouth can be examined for proper denture fit, to look for signs of oral diseases including cancer, and to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

Other Final Denture Information

  • You can expect some adjustment for the first month after getting a fixed partial, removable partial, or full denture.
  • If discomfort lasts longer than 3-4 days, contact your dentist. Do not make your own adjustments.
  • Poor oral hygiene can be the reason for denture discomfort.
  • As we age, tissues become more sensitive to pressure and can cause sore spots.
  • To ease discomfort, the mouth can be rinsed with baking soda and water, or salt and water. If a sore mouth remains untreated, it can cause other problems. Contact a dentist if the soreness continues.
  • Lower dentures, over time, may not fit as well. The only thing holding a lower denture in is gravity, your tongue and your lips. Your dentist can add a soft or hard liner and this is either a temporary or definitive, however nothing is "permanent" but either the hard or soft liner can be made as a definitive liner. If a soft liner is made and processed by the laboratory and it will stay soft as long as the denture lasts.  However, all soft liners will last less time than hard liners.
  • The upper denture is the one that usually causes the least discomfort. The advantage for the upper denture is "suction" with the roof of the mouth.

Link to another page of denture information

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