How to Take Care of Dentures
Millions of Americans have no remaining natural teeth. Even with advances in dental implants, the vast majority of people wear traditional dentures. These dental appliances replace all of the missing teeth in one jaw (an upper denture for the upper jaw, and a lower denture for the lower jaw).
The biggest advantage of traditional dentures is their low cost. The biggest myth about traditional dentures is that once you get them, you never need to see a dentist or take care of your “teeth” again. We hope this blog convinces you of the falsehood of that belief.
While dentures are relatively inexpensive compared to other dental treatments to replace missing teeth, they still require a financial investment. Dentures are custom-fitted for each individual’s unique gum and bone structure, and it is important to take care of this investment to ensure the best fit for the longest time.
Cleaning Your Dentures
Dentures consist of an acrylic base (the pink “gum” part) and plastic teeth. Both of these materials can collect plaque buildup and stain over time. For this reason, it is important to clean your dentures every day in order to ensure a long-lasting beautiful appearance.
Brushing Your Dentures
Brushing your denture accomplishes the same thing as brushing your teeth does: it removes plaque, food debris and stains. Denture materials are much softer and more susceptible to scratches and erosion than teeth are. For this reason, it is essential that you use a denture brush or extremely soft-bristled toothbrush. Medium or hard-bristled toothbrushes can create tiny scratches on the surface of the acrylic or plastic. These scratches make the surface rough instead of glossy smooth, and they will pick up stain faster than a shiny surface.
Do not ever use a whitening toothpaste on your denture!
You do not need to use any toothpaste on your denture. In fact, many toothpastes are abrasive and will create scratches, too. Simply use warm water on the toothbrush. If you must use something on your toothbrush, only denture cleaners or mild liquid hand soap is appropriate.
It is important to brush both the inside and outside of the denture to remove all plaque and food debris. Often, food debris can become trapped inside the denture, creating sore spots as you chew or speak. Cleaning them regularly helps you avoid this.
One of the easiest ways to clean your denture is by soaking it in a denture cleanser overnight. These products specifically work to break up sticky plaque, food debris and stains present on the denture. Make sure to choose one that has the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association, and follow the instructions on the package.
Be careful with any homemade denture cleanser recipes, especially ones that contain household bleach. Bleach does kill bacteria, but it also has the potential to change the color of the denture base.
In the morning, remove the dentures from the cleanser and lightly brush it under cold water before placing it into your mouth.
Maintaining Proper Fit of Your Dentures
When the dentist and dental lab makes dentures, they use the current shape of your gums and underlying jawbone. Unfortunately, those structures change over time, typically getting smaller. As those changes occur, a small air space can develop between the existing denture base and the gums. This air space leads to looseness.
If the looseness is minor, you may be able to manage it by using denture adhesive. An adhesive helps improve the suction effect between the denture and your gums. Again, make sure to only use adhesives with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
If the fit drastically changes, and denture adhesive no longer keeps the denture in place during normal function, it is time to consider a reline. A denture reline adds new acrylic material to the inside of the denture to close the air space that developed over time. It recreates the intimate fit between the denture and the gums, allowing a suction effect to develop.
A denture reline does require you to leave your dentures with the dentist for about 24 hours, so it takes some advance planning. The result is a denture that fits like new!
Yearly Denture Evaluations
Another important aspect of caring for dentures is seeing your dentist on a yearly basis. The dentist evaluates not only the fit of the dentures, but also the gums and bones of the mouth. During this evaluation, the dentist can spot potential problem areas like sore spots, fungal infections or an inflammatory condition called denture stomatitis. Do not wait until something hurts to call your dentist. Just schedule a regular visit.
We can do a “deep cleaning” of your dentures while you are in the office. This evaluation will also include the extremely important annual oral cancer screening.
More Questions about Taking Great Care of Your Dentures?
Call our office today at 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning. He can answer any question you may have about your dentures and address any problems you may have.