Denture care and cleaning.

False teeth aren't maintenance free. The same debris that accumulates on natural teeth (microorganisms, dental plaque, tartar, staining, food particles) will tend to accumulate on them too.

That means to keep their dentures clean and fresh and their mouth healthy, a person will need to perform daily maintenance.

What kind of daily care is required?

A two-front approach is needed. The first should to be focused on mechanical removal of debris, the second chemical cleansing. Neither approach is totally effective on its own.

  1. A denture must be scrubbed with a brush (the use of an ultrasonic cleaner can help too).
  2. The use of a homemade or store-bought soaking solution can further aid with cleansing and disinfection.

A) Denture brushing.

False teeth (complete sets, partials) should be taken out and brushed off after every meal.

What kind of brush should you use?

Scrubbing can be performed using a toothbrush, nailbrush, denture brush or any other type that can easily fit into all of the nooks and crannies of your appliance.

In most cases, a denture brush probably makes the best choice. As their name implies, these brushes have a design (bristle stiffness and shape) that's been specially designed for performing this task.

If you choose to use a toothbrush instead, it should be dedicated to just denture care. Any residual particles of toothpaste that your regular toothbrush may harbor can scratch your denture's surface (see below).

A denture brush.

    A denture brush.

Instructions / Technique.

  • As a first step, you should rinse your false teeth off with water so to wash away any loose debris.
  • Never scrub a dry denture, or use a dry brush. Only perform your cleaning activities in the presence of water.
  • Clean your denture inside and out. Both sides are equally important to maintain.
  • Denture toothpaste or cream can be used with your brush. Other options include hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid.
         Don't feel that you have to use anything. By far, the most important factor is the thoroughness of your scrubbing, not the type of cleaner that's been applied.
  • Toothpaste doesn't make the best choice. It often contains abrasives that can scratch plastic surfaces, thus making it more likely that your appliance will stain or harbor debris.
  • All remnants of denture adhesive should be removed. If it's not, as each new layer is applied, a thick, hard layer can build up that can be very difficult to remove.
         (This is especially likely if the person's dentures are allowed to air-dry when stored, as opposed to being immersed in water.)
  • Once you're finished cleaning, thoroughly rinse your false teeth off with water. If you're not going to wear them immediately, place them in a secure container that contains enough water to cover over them. Our next pages discuss types of soaking solutions.) If a denture is allowed to dry out, its fit may change.
  • Don't forget to clean your mouth. Teeth, if present, should be brushed and flossed. Especially in the case of complete dentures, a person's gums and palate should be gently brushed. You should also clean your tongue.

B) Using an ultrasonic cleaning unit can increase effectiveness.

The evaluation of images taken with an electron microscope has revealed that even the most diligent brushing session may miss a substantial portion of the microorganisms that have attached themselves to a denture's surface.

At a microscopic level, denture plastic is quite pitted. The vibratory action of an ultrasonic cleaner can help to dislodge debris from these pits. Using one in combination with brushing has been found to be more effective than just brushing alone.

Details

Household ultrasonic units are usually sold as cleaning devices for either false teeth or jewelry (the same unit can be used for both).

Their cost can be prohibitive ($50 to $150). However, in those situations where more than one person can utilize the apparatus (husband and wife, several nursing home patients) the overall expense becomes more affordable.

If shared, each person's denture can be placed in a baggie that's been partially filled with water or cleaning solution. This way there is no cross-contamination between users.


Take precaution against accidents.

False teeth may break or otherwise be damaged when dropped, even from a height of just a few inches. Accidents can be prevented by using one of the following techniques.

  • When cleaning, hold your appliance over a sink or dishpan that's been filled with a few inches of water.
  • As an alternative, do your work over a hand or bath towel that's been folded over one or more times.

Using either of these techniques, if you do drop your denture, its fall will be cushioned by the towel or water underneath.

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