If you’ve lost a majority or all of your natural teeth, whether from periodontal disease, tooth decay or injury, dentures can replace these missing teeth to help you smile with confidence again. Removable partial or full dentures are customised to fit the contours of your gums to prevent discomfort or bruises to its surfaces.
Just like any appliance, dentures require proper care to keep them clean from bacteria, free of permanent stains, and functioning at peak efficiency. In this article, we share some tips on how to best clean and maintain your dentures.
How does food accumulate in dentures?
Food accumulating between the nooks and crannies of dentures is a common occurrence, especially among new dentures wearers. This is why it is important to first understand how food can get stuck between, on, and underneath the dentures. The following are some of the more frequent ways food particles collect on your dentures:
- Food particles that naturally drift to the floor of the mouth can get trapped beneath the lower dentures.
- Pieces of food and debris can be pushed backward and upward by the tongue as you chew and swallow, causing them to enter the space underneath the upper dentures.
- Some types of food are more likely to adhere to the rough plastic surfaces of dentures rather than our natural teeth. This can result in build-up over time.
Problems that arise from food build-up
When food builds up in your mouth, you may find yourself facing one or more of these problems:
- Fungal infection
- Bad breath or halitosis
- Gum disease
- Inflammation of oral tissue
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay on remaining natural teeth
Besides that, did you know your dentures also accumulate plaque just like your natural teeth? Plaque that is not removed properly can react with your saliva to harden into tartar, which are hard calcified deposits that form and coat the teeth as well as gums.
What is the best way to clean your dentures?
Aim to brush your dentures once a day. When brushing your dentures, it is important to remember that abrasive substances can result in numerous scratches or grooves on your dentures. Therefore, make sure to use brushes with soft bristles along with ADA-accepted toothpastes. While most dentures are made out of a durable material such as acrylic (plastic), it is still crucial to handle them with care when cleaning in order to retain their shape.
If approved by your dentist, soak your dentures overnight in cleaning agents. These special solutions are designed to help reduce bacterial load and denture-related odour. Thoroughly rinse off any remaining solution before wearing your dentures. Alternatively, you could also simply leave your dentures in cold or room-temperature water through the night. It is important to note that moisture keeps dentures pliable. When dentures dry out, the acrylic is likely to become dry and brittle. This causes the dentures to lose its shape and even slightly deform, thus affecting its overall fit.
Following this, brush your tongue, roof of your mouth, cheeks and remaining natural teeth. Flossing your teeth as well as the spaces between your gums and dentures is essential to protecting your overall oral hygiene. For those using denture adhesives, thoroughly clean the grooves that fit against your gums to remove any food, plaque, or remaining adhesive.
Some helpful maintenance tips
It is not healthy to wear your dentures for 24 hours. As such, make sure to remove your dentures before going to bed. Leaving them out overnight would provide your mouth and gums a chance to rest and stay healthy. In addition to a period of recovery, this habit also helps to prevent fungal infection.
Schedule regular check-ups with your denture clinic in Geelong to examine and get your dentures professionally cleaned. Tartar can leave your dentures uncomfortable and unsightly. Unfortunately, you will not be able to completely remove this stubborn substance yourself. By utilising proper equipment such as ultrasonic cleaners, dentists can effectively clean the biofilm from the surface of your dentures. Appointments can also help your dentist identify signs of wear and tear early on. This will allow them to maximise the appliance’s lifespan, while ensuring its fit remains comfortable.
Denture wearers should adopt certain eating habits in order to reduce the chances of food sticking between their dentures. Firstly, it is vital that you thoroughly chew your food into the smallest possible pieces as large chunks are more likely to stick on your teeth. Do not take new bites of food before properly chewing and clearing the previous mouthful. Excess food could also increase the possibility of trapped food.
Furthermore, try to drink water with your food. This eases the chewing and swallowing process while acting as a lubricant to dislodge any food particles. After eating, be sure to carefully rinse your dentures to remove food particles or other deposits that may be stuck between its surfaces. Following this, gently pat your dentures dry before fitting them on once again.
If your dentures include sealants or adhesives, do not keep liquid in your mouth for longer than necessary before swallowing. Food can easily slip underneath your dentures when adhesives loosen.
What are some habits to avoid?
- Do not use abrasive materials when cleaning your dentures. This includes bleaching agents, whitening toothpastes and brushes with stiff bristles.
- Avoid soaking your dentures in chlorine water as its metal attachments will tarnish and corrode.
- Do not use denture cleaners inside of your mouth. Due to its chemicals, these solutions can result in vomiting, pain, and even burns if swallowed.
- Never soak your dentures in hot or boiling water. This can cause them to warp or get misshapen, thus altering its fit to your mouth.
- Do not soak your dentures in cleansers that contain sodium hypochlorite for more than 10 minutes.
- Be aware of consuming sticky, hard and tough food such as nuts, meat that is not tenderised, gummy candy, popcorn, and staining beverages.
For more information on appropriate hygiene habits for maintaining the long-term health and appearance of your dentures, speak to your dentist.