Dentures are a vital and practical solution for replacing lost or seriously damaged teeth. They replace missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Full dentures are prescribed when all natural teeth are missing. Partial dentures replace missing teeth when only some natural teeth still remain. While many people may think of dentures as purely cosmetic, they are also very important for proper chewing, speech, and overall oral health.
Modern dentures are comfortable and natural looking. They need proper care and regular maintenance to keep them clean and your mouth healthy. To avoid problems, discomfort, and disease, it’s good to know how to care for your dentures properly.
Your dentist will guide you on the best methods for caring for your particular type of dentures. Here are some general tips:
Handle with care: Dentures are very delicate and can break easily if dropped or roughly mishandled. They should be handled over a padded surface or sink filled with water. Take care not to bend or damage the plastic or the metal clasps when cleaning.
Brush & Rinse Daily: Gums, tongue, cheeks, and palate should be rinsed, massaged, and brushed with a soft-bristled, denture-specific brush before placing and after removing dentures. Like natural teeth, complete and partial dentures need daily brushing to remove food and plaque, and to prevent stains. Partial dentures should be removed before brushing natural teeth.
Gently brush all surfaces and rinse after every meal, paying particular attention under metal fasteners. Rinse your mouth daily with lukewarm, salt water to clean and remove any residual denture adhesive or cleaning solution, which can cause burning, sores, or vomiting if ingested.
Denture Cleaners: Regular toothpaste is abrasive and may create microscopic fissures where food and plaque can accumulate. Hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid can be used. Avoid using household cleaners, bleach, or whitening toothpastes. Products stamped with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are safe and effective to use.
Denture Cleaning Devices: Ultrasonic cleaners are small bathtub-like devices that contain a cleaning solution. Sound waves create a wave-like motion that dislodges deposits in the immersed dentures. A thorough daily brushing is still required.
Storing Dentures: To keep them in shape, dentures need to be kept moist when not being worn. If they dry out, they may lose their shape. Dentures should be soaked in a cleansing solution or in room temperature water. Hot water can cause them to warp. Manufacturer’s instructions should be followed.
Sleeping: your dentist may advise you to wear your dentures while sleeping for a period of time. After multiple extractions, or installation of new dentures for example. However, as a general practice it is not advisable to sleep without removing dentures.
Balanced Diet & Nutrition: Is essential to maintain a healthy mouth.
Toothpicks should be avoided as they can damage dentures.
Over time normal wear and tear and age-related changes to the face, jaw, and gums will require dentures to be replaced. If they are in reasonably good shape, they may merely need to be relined, rebased, or remade. In this case, the dentist or prosthodontist will refit the old base or make a new base and reuse existing teeth while repairing the dentures.
Complete dentures generally last 5 to 7 years.
Cheilitis or cheilosos is an infection that causes painful inflammation and cracking in the mouth. This is the result of excess yeast which accumulates in the moist areas of the mouth, specially with ill-fitting dentures.
Regular visits to the dentist can ensure dentures fit properly. Rubbing or licking of the corners of the mouth should be avoided.
Stomatitis is also caused by an over-accumulation of yeast. Symptoms of denture-induced stomatitis are often unnoticeable. They manifest in small red bumps on the palate, or redness in the mouth, especially in the upper dentures.
Both cheilitis and stomatitis respond well to medication and meticulous denture care.
Your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about the required frequency of check-up visits, but you should visit at least every six months. These exams will ensure your dentures fit properly, and retain good shape. Loose dentures can cause irritation, sores, and infection.
The dentist will examine your mouth to ensure that your mouth is free of oral diseases, including oral cancer. Your dentures will also be professionally cleaned at these visits.
If you would like more information about the restorative and cosmetic dentistry options available to you, including dentures and other procedures, call Dr. Ernie Soto at (954) 228-6714.