Maintaining a simple, daily care routine and regularly visiting your dentist are all you need to wear your dentures with confidence as you perform your daily activities.
But like original teeth, dentures also accumulate plaque. Additionally, dentures can cause the plaque to settle underneath the gum line, making cleaning harder and increasing the risk for cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
If your dentures are part of a bigger treatment plan that involved tooth extraction in order to fix certain dental problems, it’s even more important to follow your dentist’s oral hygiene instruction to ensure complete recovery of your oral health and avoid new complications.
Proper denture care is an important part of oral hygiene that helps to ensure good health of your mouth, and also prevent unnecessary and costly denture repairs. The bacterial film (plaque) that collects on natural teeth is also found on dentures, and failure to remove it on a regular basis can negatively impact the health of denture wearers.
Common issues resulting from poor denture hygiene may include:
- Mouth sores
- Bad breath
- Candidiasis – an oral fungus called ‘thrush’ or denture stomatitis
- Angular Cheilitis – sores forming at the corners of your mouth
- Leukoplakia – thick, hard, white patches in the mouth – considered an oral cancer precursor
How harmful is bacteria build up on your dentures?
Plaque refers to the film of bacteria and saliva that collects on hard surfaces inside your mouth. So, it collects on both natural teeth and dentures.
Plaque appears as a colourless or whitish coating either over the surface of dentures, or as a deposit on natural teeth where they meet the gums.
While plaque is a mixture of saliva and bacteria, it contains a huge amount of the latter.
Proper cleaning of your dentures on a daily basis typically helps to keep the harmful effects of these bacteria at bay. But once the plaque is left in place for more than 24 hours, it releases toxic substances that can result in gum inflammation.
Potential consequences of neglecting proper denture care
1. Oral infections:
If you have natural teeth, the toxic substances will cause gums around each tooth to become red and inflamed, and start to bleed when you brush. For those who wear dentures, plaque buildup on the denture will cause the whole area of your mouth covered by the denture to be at risk of inflammation. In severe cases, the inflammation may advance to a chronic form of thrush or denture stomatitis.
2. Bad breath:
The buildup of plaque can also cause bad breath, due to the smelly gases released by the bacteria. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth properly, you can suffer from persistent bad breath due to the combined action of bacteria and rotting of bits of food caught between the teeth.
3. Gum Irritation and Inflammation:
Failing to remove and clean your dentures regularly, can irritate and inflame your gums. This can result in soreness, redness, and even bleeding gums. Prolonged gum irritation can lead to more severe gum problems, such as gum disease.
4. Poor Denture Fit:
Neglected dentures can accumulate plaque and tartar, leading to a rough surface on the denture material. This roughness can cause discomfort, sore spots, and friction against your gums, leading to denture sores or ulcers. Additionally, inadequate cleaning can result in the buildup of sticky residue or denture adhesive, affecting the fit and stability of your dentures.
5. Denture Staining and Discoloration
If you don’t clean your dentures regularly and properly, they can become stained and discolored. This can affect the appearance of your dentures, making them appear dull or yellowed. Stains on dentures can be difficult to remove without professional cleaning.
6. Accelerated Denture Wear
Lack of proper care can contribute to faster deterioration of your dentures. Plaque, tartar, and debris on your dentures can cause increased wear and damage to the denture material, leading to a shorter lifespan for your dentures. This can result in the need for frequent repairs or replacement, which can be costly and inconvenient.
Oral hygiene for dentures
To avoid these potential problems, it is important to follow your dentist’s oral hygiene instructions for dentures.
This typically includes:
- Removing and cleaning your dentures daily
- Soaking them in a denture cleanser or solution
- Brushing your gums and any remaining natural teeth (if applicable),
- And visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations.
Partial denture care instructions
Dentures are easy to care for, sort of like your natural teeth, only that you should never use regular toothpaste because of its abrasive properties.
It is easy to maintain your oral health with dentures. Here is why:
- You can use any soap to clean your dentures, provided you do it every day, with a soft-bristle brush and some water, possibly over a towel or sink full of water so they won’t be damaged when they fall.
- You get to rest your mouth tissues for 8 hours of every 24 hours when you remove your dentures, possibly at night.
- When you’re not wearing them, simply soak them in powdered cleaners to remove stains and odors, which is a fairly effortless way of caring for your teeth. You can even add an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for professional quality cleaning without spending too much.
- You give special attention to the rest of your mouth – gums, tongue, cheeks, and roof of the mouth – when you remove your dentures. This is beneficial to reduce the risk for oral irritation and bad breath.
How to clean your dentures with a toothbrush
- Use a soft brush to clean your dentures after soaking them. Use an approved denture toothpaste, liquid detergent, or foam, but avoid abrasive materials, including regular toothpastes for natural teeth. Abrasive materials can scratch and wear your dentures causing aesthetic and fit issues.
- Rinse your dentures after meals, but never use hot water or bleach because they can damage your dentures or even cause injury to you.
- Visit your dentist regularly for examinations of your mouth – while the denture does not change, your mouth does. So, the health of your mouth, including the condition of the supporting bone and tissues should be checked annually.
When your dentures get damaged, you should get them checked and repaired by your dentist, instead of using DIY repair kits that may cause irreparable damage. You dentist will also help to diagnose the cause of the damage and rectify it.
If you take proper care of your dentures, like you would your natural teeth, you should not experience any oral health problems. Instead of brushing after meals, simply rinse your mouth and dentures after every meal. That is good oral care.