Ultrasonic denture cleaners. -
Why use an ultrasonic denture cleaner?
Cleaning your false teeth ultrasonically gives you a way to "scrub" their surface at a microscopic level.
These units don't replace denture brushing, they supplement it. They make it possible for you to dislodge microorganisms and debris at a level where your brush's bristles have minimal effect.
What research shows.
While brushing is a good way to remove bulk accumulation and film, it's not so effective at a microscopic level.
Studies that have inspected the surface of dentures using an electron microscope have found that even the most diligent brushing session typically fails to remove a substantial amount microscopic debris. (Shay 2000) [References for this page.]
That because the porous, often scratched and marred, surfaces of false teeth harbor innumerable nooks and crannies. And most of these are smaller than the width of a single brush bristle but more than large enough for microorganisms to inhabit.
What you need to know.
For the above reasons, it only makes sense to consider incorporating the use of an ultrasonic cleaner in your daily denture care.
So you can decide if using one will fit in with your routine, this page describes how these units work. How effective they are. And how they're generally used.
Ultrasonic denture cleaners.
a) How do these devices work?
Ultrasonic cleaners are basically vibrating water baths. The motion of the liquid in its tank is created by a high-frequency transducer.
The actual cleansing action created by these units is due to the following phenomenon.
- One is the action of the bath's solution as it's propelled against the denture's surface. (Admittedly, however, even "sonic" units create this benefit to some degree. See below.)
- The other is a "scrubbing" action created by the collapse of tiny bubbles formed by the intense (ultrasonic) agitation of the solution. As they rupture (a process termed "cavitation"), they create minute but powerful shockwaves that are able to loosen and remove debris from denture surfaces.
b) How to use an ultrasonic denture cleaner.
- As a first step, your denture should be thoroughly brushed. This helps to remove loose particles and debris.
- The unit's tank must be filled. Most at-home cleaners come with some type of proprietary preparation made by the manufacturer for making this solution.
Something that's basically just as good, and practically free, is soap solution (add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to tap water). The detergent helps to reduce the surface tension of the water, which helps to enhance the rate of cavitation (the action that does the cleaning).
- If more than one person will be using your unit, place your denture in a baggie so it's covered over with your chosen solution. Remove most of the air. Then seal the bag and submerge it in the unit's tank.
(Doing things this way will keep your "germs" from mixing with anyone else's.)
- Turn the unit on and let it run through its cycle.
- Afterward, rinse your denture thoroughly with cool tap water.
- (At this point you might proceed to chemical disinfection of your denture via the use of a commercial or homemade soak.)
How long do you run the unit?
- At-home ultrasonic cleaners typically have timers that run for 3 to 6 minutes and then turn them off automatically. Running one cycle is generally enough.
- The study we mention below (Cruz 2011) used a one-time treatment of 15 minutes for false teeth.
- Aasim (2006), when studying the effects of ultrasonic treatment on dental instruments, found that no further cleaning effect was realized after 5 to 10 minutes.
c) How effective are these units?
A paper published by Cruz (2011) stated that a number of research studies, including it, concluded that the use of an ultrasonic unit alone provided results as good or superior to the use of an effervescent soaking solution (commercial "tablet" cleanser).
d) Personal ultrasonic units.
While essentially all dentists have ultrasonic cleaners in their office, it's not so common that their patients know about these devices and use one at home.
We did a quick online check of some web retailers to see what's available. We found four or five different brands of personal-size units for sale. Some of the prices we saw were less than $40, which makes these units reasonably affordable.
"Sonic" denture cleaners vs. "ultrasonics."
As a side note, our search also turned up several "sonic" denture cleaning units for sale.
As their name implies, these devices vibrate at a lower speed. And because of this they don't agitate the fluids in their tank as vigorously as ultrasonic units do.
These devices should simply be considered to be fluid "agitators." And when compared to soaking false teeth in a still bath they do offer a minor advantage. But they're not considered to be as effective as ultrasonic units. (Oussama 2014)
Should you buy personal ultrasonic denture cleaner?
The entire process of denture cleansing is likely very much less effective (at a microscopic level) than most people would like to imagine. (If you need proof of this, just try this test). So, to us, that means anything you can do to tip the scales in your favor, seems like a good idea.
Using an at-home ultrasonic cleaner might be especially beneficial for people who have impaired manual dexterity and therefore find denture brushing a difficult, or risky (denture breakage), activity.
While the cost of these units isn't terribly prohibitive, it becomes substantially less if more than one person can utilize it. Another cost-saving measure would be to use soap solution in the unit rather than the manufacturer's proprietary preparation.
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