June 11, 2003 -- A quick zap in the microwave can make regular denture cleaning products better at killing germs, according to a new study. Researchers found adding a two-minute treatment in the microwave made commercial denture cleaners significantly more effective in sanitizing dentures than using the products alone.
Researchers say one in five adults wear some type of dentures, and wearing germ-contaminated dentures can increase the risk of infection in the mouth, which can cause sores, bleeding, swelling, or burning.
Although over-the-counter denture cleaners that involve soaking the dentures may make dentures look clean, they don't always sanitize them.
Cleaner Plus Microwave Works Best
In this study, published in a recent issue of General Dentistry, researchers compared the germ-fighting power of a commercial denture cleaner (Polident with Polishield) used as directed alone or in combination with a two-minute trip in the microwave vs. microwave treatment alone or no treatment at all.
Researchers found the combination of a commercial denture cleaner with a microwave treatment was most effective at removing microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeasts, and fungi, found in the depths of the dentures compared with the other options.
The study showed that a single treatment with the denture cleaner did not sanitize contaminated dentures. In fact, none of the other treatment options were capable of decontaminating dentures even after three treatments. Researchers say those findings are in line with a previous study that also showed soaking dentures for up to four weeks reduced but did not eliminate germs.
Researcher R. Thomas Glass DDS, PhD, and colleagues of Oklahoma State University say unpublished studies show that repeated microwaving does not damage dentures as long as they do not contain any metal.
Zap Your Dentures
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, denture wearers should follow these steps to microwave their dentures and add extra germ-fighting power to their denture cleaning routine:
- Place dentures that have no metal compartments in a microwave container at least twice as tall as the dentures, with vents in the cover.
- Fill the container with water.
- Drop one tablet of the denture cleaner in the water.
- Place a towel over the cover of the microwave container to catch any excess fluid.
- Microwave the container for two minutes using the standard microwave power setting.
- Allow dentures to completely cool, then rinse and wear.