Proper denture care is important for both the health of your dentures and mouth. Here are some tips.
- Handle dentures with great care. To avoid accidentally dropping them, stand over a folded towel or a full sink of water when handling them.
- Brush and rinse dentures daily, but not with toothpaste. Toothpaste is abrasive and creates microscopic scratches where food and plaque can build up. Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food and plaque. Brushing also helps prevent the development of permanent stains on the dentures. Use a brush with soft bristles that is specifically designed for cleaning dentures. Avoid using a hard-bristled brush as it can damage or wear down dentures. Gently brush all surfaces of the denture and be careful not to damage the plastic or bend attachments. In between brushings, rinse dentures after every meal.
- Clean with a denture cleaner. Hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid can be used for cleaning dentures. Household cleansers and many toothpastes may be too abrasive for dentures and should not be used. Also, avoid using bleach, as this may whiten the pink portion of the denture. Ultrasonic cleaners can be used to care for dentures. These cleaners are small bathtub-like devices that contain a cleaning solution. The denture is immersed in the tub and then sound waves create a wave motion that dislodges the undesirable deposits. Use of an ultrasonic cleaner, however, does not replace a thorough daily brushing. Products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are recommended since they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
- Take proper care of dentures when not wearing them. Dentures need to be kept moist when not being worn so they do not dry out or lose their shape. When not worn, dentures should be placed in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water. However, if the denture has metal attachments, the attachments could tarnish if placed in a soaking solution. Your dentist can recommend the best methods for caring for your particular denture. Dentures should never be placed in hot water, which can cause them to warp.
Can I Adjust or Repair Dentures?
One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed soon after receiving dentures for any necessary adjustments. Never attempt to adjust or repair 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 dentures, and over-the-counter glues may contain harmful chemicals.
Dentures that don't fit properly can cause irritation and sores in the mouth and on gums. Be sure to contact your oral health care provider if a denture breaks, cracks, or chips or if one of the teeth becomes loose. Oftentimes, your provider can make the necessary adjustment or repair the same day. For some complicated repairs, your denture may have to be sent to a special dental lab.
Will My Dentures Need to Be Replaced?
Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased, or remade due to normal wear and natural age-related changes to the face, jaw bones, and gums or if the dentures become loose. To reline or rebase a denture, the dentist or 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 Should I Care for My Mouth and Gums if I Have Dentures?
Even with full dentures, it is important to brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a soft-bristled brush every morning before putting the dentures in. 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 brushing natural teeth. Clean, rest, and massage your gums regularly. Rinsing your mouth daily with lukewarm salt water will help clean the gums. Eat a balanced diet to maintain proper nutrition and a healthy mouth.
How Often Should I See the Dentist if I Have Dentures?
If you have dentures, your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about how often to visit, but every six months should be the norm. Regular dental visits are important so that your dentures and your mouth can be examined to ensure proper denture fit, to look for signs of oral diseases including cancer, and to have teeth professionally cleaned.