The purpose of wearing dentures is to enable patients who have lost some or all of their teeth to speak, smile and eat comfortably. These things are only possible, however, if their dentures are snug and well-maintained. Learning how to clean dentures is important to ensuring good daily hygiene and making them last, but occasionally you may find it necessary to take additional steps to eliminate the tougher-to-remove bacteria. We take a look at how that bacteria tends to get there and the best way to attack it.
How does food accumulate on my dentures?
Dentures, like regular teeth are constantly getting dirty from everyday life. Food particles collect on your dentures every time you eat, for several reasons:
- The food that drifts to the floor of your mouth can land and become trapped under a lower denture.
- Debris that gets pushed backward and upward as you chew, and swallow may wind up in between your palate and the upper denture.
- Food sticks to rough plastic surface of dentures far more easily than it does to oral tissues, which allows it to build up over time.
Dentures take up a fair amount of space in the mouth, though, which means you are much more likely to feel food remnants collecting underneath them than someone with natural teeth.
How does this buildup cause problems?
Food particles stick to certain areas of the denture more than others, and if they aren’t removed frequently, they can lead to a variety of oral health problems. Bad breath is a common concern among 87 percent of denture-wearers, and when food is accumulating in the mouth, it can turn rancid in a matter of hours. To determine whether your dentures are affecting your breath, consider placing your dentures in a sealed, plastic sandwich bag for five minutes. When you unseal the bag, you’ll get an idea of whether your halitosis is caused by your dentures.
Inflammation of oral tissue is another legitimate complication. When tough-to-remove particles collect and build up on a section of the dentures that is in contact with your mouth, the bacteria that feed on this leftover food can transfer to the gums and tissues – causing infection. Unchecked, the resulting inflammation may develop into periodontal gum disease or mouth sores related to denture stomatitis, which can appear at the corners of the lips.
Various studies have also shown a connection between poor oral health and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and rheumatology. This makes it essential that you know how to clean dentures effectively, regardless of the type of denture for which you’re fitted.
How do I deep clean this build up off my dentures?
In addition to your regular daily brushing, it’s necessary to use a deep-cleaning solution periodically to soak off food deposits from the denture. These solutions typically come in the form of effervescent tablets, which are specifically formulated to clean dentures.
Avoid using abrasive materials such as brushes with stiff bristles, whitening toothpastes or products containing bleach because these can damage the dentures. Also keep in mind that hot or boiling water can warp your dentures, and soaking items that have metal fittings in any solution containing chlorine can cause the metal to tarnish.
After soaking, check the inside of the denture for any remaining food particles, and brush or scrub using a soft-bristled toothbrush whose shape is conducive to denture care.
Ultimately, ensure that you rinse the dentures exceptionally well afterward; even the gentlest cleansing solution can contain chemicals that are harmful to your mouth’s natural tissues.
Some additional denture cleaning tips:
Removable partial or full dentures require proper care to keep them clean, free from stains and looking their best. For good denture care:
- Remove and rinse dentures after eating. Run water over your dentures to remove food debris and other loose particles. You may want to place a towel on the counter or in the sink or put some water in the sink, so the dentures won’t break if you drop them.
- Handle your dentures carefully. Be sure you don’t bend or damage the plastic or the clasps when cleaning.
- Clean your mouth after removing your dentures. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush on natural teeth and gauze or a soft toothbrush to clean your tongue, cheeks and roof of your mouth (palate). If used, remove any remaining denture adhesive from your gums.
- Soak dentures overnight. Most types of dentures need to stay moist to keep their shape. Place the dentures in water or a mild denture-soaking solution overnight. Check with your dentist about properly storing your dentures overnight. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and soaking solutions.
- Schedule regular dental checkups. Your dentist will recommend how often to visit to have your dentures examined and professionally cleaned. Your dentist can help ensure a proper fit to prevent slippage and discomfort, and also check the inside of your mouth to make sure it’s healthy. Just because you wear dentures doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pleasure of freshly-brushed teeth. Complete your denture-cleaning procedure with a thorough brushing of your gums using a soft-bristled toothbrush and every day, fluoridated toothpaste. If you notice any mouth sores, rinsing with a mouthwash will help to heal them and protect against bacteria in the long term.
Do you have questions about cleaning your dentures? Call Hartnett Dental to schedule an appointment with your dentist today! (716) 649-6633.