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How to Take Care of Your Dentures

Updated on January 7, 2017
Alison Graham profile image

Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.

If you wear dentures, following our tips will help keep them looking great, feeling comfortable, and protect you from bacteria and bad breath!
If you wear dentures, following our tips will help keep them looking great, feeling comfortable, and protect you from bacteria and bad breath! | Source

Denture Care Tips

In this article, we will examine how to keep your full or partial dentures looking great, feeling comfortable, and performing perfectly.

Dentures can be expensive, so whether you have Acrylic, Flexible (Valplast), or the metal (Cobalt Chrome) type, here are some simple care tips to ensure they last the expected 5-8 years, saving you money on early replacements.

Perhaps a surprising part of denture care is ensuring you take care of your mouth and gums, so please read on to find out more!

Why I Wrote This Article

I decided to research and write this article because of my husband's experience with his partial denture. At the time of writing, he needs to have it replaced because it no longer fits correctly after the removal of a back tooth.

As a result of my research, he is going to ask our dentist whether a flexible partial denture, which does not need wires around existing teeth to stay in place, would be a better option for him now, rather than another acrylic one.

When I began my research, I did not know that there was more than one type of denture. It has been interesting to learn about the pros and cons of each type, as well as the different care that each type requires.

I hope that you find my article helpful—not only in terms of taking care of your existing dentures, but also when the time comes for you to replace your current set. You will be able to speak knowledgably with your dentist about options that might be more comfortable, effective, or aesthetic for you.

Dentures Need Special Care

Your new dentures may look smooth and shiny, but tiny surface pores and crevices that are visible under a microscope can harbor bacteria that a surface brushing using a brush and paste may not remove.

If these bacteria, including 'nasties' such as Klebsiella Pneumoniae, Streptococcus Mutans, Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus are not removed on a daily basis, they can multiply alarmingly quickly. Please take a look at the picture below that shows plaque accumulated on the smooth, glazed surface of a new denture after just one month!

Under a microscope and magnified 5000 times, this  image shows plaque accumulation on the glazed side of the fitting surface of a denture after just one month!
Under a microscope and magnified 5000 times, this image shows plaque accumulation on the glazed side of the fitting surface of a denture after just one month! | Source

These tiny microbes can cause plaque build-up, the decay of natural teeth and receding gums within the mouth. Unfortunately, they can also get into the bloodstream and contribute to long-term health conditions elsewhere in the body including heart and arterial disease.

A build-up of mouth bacteria is also a cause of halitosis (bad breath). If you are a denture wearer for whom this is a problem, you are at risk of losing remaining, natural teeth through plaque build-up, plaque acid attack, and receding gums.

Effective denture cleaning is even more important for patients who suffer from a condition known as, Xerostomia ('dry mouth'). Insufficient saliva production means that patients are less able to fight off oral bacteria. This problem is more common in older people, particularly as they are more likely to be taking prescription or over the counter medications that can increase the chances of developing xerostomia.

Below, you will find cleaning and care tips for the type of denture you have. We have covered Acrylic, Valplast (flexible nylon) and Chrome Cobalt (metal) - so please scroll down to read the tips appropriate for you.

How To Clean Acrylic Dentures

Acrylic is the material of choice for most denture wearers as it is the least expensive. The material is strong but can be easy to damage during cleaning. It is a wise precaution to clean them over a basin filled with water or a counter top with a folded towel on it in case your denture should slip from your hand.

Daily care is vital. Rinse after eating to remove any tiny particles of food trapped between your plate and your mouth. This not only keeps them fitting comfortably but also helps to prevent the build-up of plaque.

Cleaning should not be done with a toothbrush and paste designed for natural teeth. In order to avoid tiny abrasions to the denture surface that can harbor bacteria, use a brush and paste specifically designed for dentures.

Most dentists advise removing dentures for 6-8 hours each day and the most practical time for most people is to do this overnight. During this time, and at any other time that you remove them, it is important that acrylic dentures are not allowed to dry out as they can go out of shape.

Soak them in water (never hot water!), to which you can add a proprietary denture cleaner product that can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria.

My husband uses Polident as he has found it very effective. As seen in the video below, it works to kill bacteria. It helps to keep his partial denture fresh (he likes the triple mint flavor) - but it is important to remember to rinse well before replacing in your mouth.

Caring for Flexible Dentures

Valplast flexible dentures are a popular choice because of their lightweight flexibility, comfort and fit without the need for wires or adhesive
Valplast flexible dentures are a popular choice because of their lightweight flexibility, comfort and fit without the need for wires or adhesive | Source

Flexible dentures are a popular choice, particularly for partial dentures as they do not need adhesive or wires around existing teeth to hold them in place. They are made from ultra thin, thermoplastic nylon resin which is very flexible and makes them incredibly comfortable for the wearer.

Top brand names include Flexite, TCS (IFLEX) and Valplast. The thermoplastic material does not absorb food odors or become stained and makes a great choice for anyone with allergies to acrylic or some metals used in dental prostheses. It is also very strong, and resistant to fracture or breakage. Wearers still need to take care when cleaning, though, as the teeth attached to the thermoplastic material can break or snap off if dropped.

The video below will provide you with a guide to cleaning your flexible denture. The video is specific to Valplast but the care guidelines are similar for all dentures made from thermoplastic material. It is important to note that you should not brush with either a toothbrush or a denture brush, as this can damage the surface, allowing bacteria to gain a 'foothold'.

In summary, you should rinse your denture after every meal to remove any food debris and prevent plaque build-up. Valplast have their own brand of Denture Cleaner, Val-Clean in which you soak your dentures for just 15-20 minutes or, if you prefer, you can soak them overnight.

If you cannot source or do not wish to use Val-Clean, look for a denture cleaner labeled FDC, (Flexible Denture Cleaner). Alternatively, you can use a sonic denture cleaner (more details about these, and how they work, below).

Do not clean this type of denture by brushing and always remove a partial denture before cleaning your remaining natural teeth.

Top Tip!

If you soak your flexible dentures overnight, popping them into some hand-hot water for a few minutes before replacing them in your mouth will restore full flexibility making them comfortable and perfectly fitting.

Caring For Metal Dentures

Typical appearance of cobalt chrome partial dentures
Typical appearance of cobalt chrome partial dentures | Source

Metal dentures are made from Cobalt Chrome and are cast to fit your mouth. They are stronger and more stable than acrylic and have some other advantages:

  • They do not easily go out of shape although they can be made thinner than acrylic dentures.
  • They are hypoallergenic.
  • Their higher thermal conductivity allows the wearer to feel the temperature of food and drink.
  • The surface is less porous, minimizing the build-up of plaque deposits and any food fragments.

Disadvantages for some wearers are that the metal can be visible to others under some circumstances (laughing or yawning for example), making them less aesthetically appealing and they can also be more expensive.

When cleaning your cobalt chrome dentures, it is okay to brush the metal surfaces but many dentists advise using gentle hand soap instead of abrasive toothpaste.

It is also important to note that you should not use a hypochlorite bleach solution such as Denclen as this will tarnish and corrode the metal parts. Instead, soak them in an alkaline peroxide solution using a product such as Steradent effervescent tablets. If you have any concerns about the safety of any cleaning product for your cobalt chrome prosthesis, check with your dentist.

Rather than leaving your metal denture soaking in cleaning solution overnight, pop them in plain water or seal them in a plastic bag with a small amount of water to prevent them from drying out.

Ultrasonic Denture Cleaners

I think ultrasonic cleaners are a very good idea - and especially, for older people who may not have the manual dexterity to clean their dentures effectively or who may risk dropping and breaking them.

In fact, the video below is included as the link was sent to me by a friend of my daughter. She lives in the US and bought the iSonic F3900 (the model demonstrated), for her mother who has very bad arthritis in her hands and broke her previous dentures trying to clean them.

Emily, my daughter's friend, said that six months on, this inexpensive device is performing perfectly and that her mother is very pleased with the iSonic F3900. She likes the fact that it has an automatic cut-off after five minutes so there is no need to remember to turn it off! It can also be used with or without the addition of cleaning powder so this makes it easier for her Mom.

Suitable for all types of dentures, these ultrasonic cleaners are a simple and effective way of ensuring optimum, hygienic cleansing.

Simply explained, an ultrasonic cleaner usually only needs water to do a thorough clean. However, for acrylic dentures that may have become stained, cleaning powders are available that can be added to the water in the ultrasonic bath in some models.

To work, the device must be connected to an electrical supply. When switched on, ultrasonic (very high frequency) sound waves pass through the water causing very tiny bubbles to appear and then collapse again very quickly. These tiny bubbles remove tiny particles of food debris, plaque, and bacteria and leave all surfaces of the denture, hygienically clean.

Ultrasonic cleaners come in a wide price range. The very cheap, battery operated models are probably not worth the money as they are not powerful enough to be effective. At the other end of the scale are 'medical devices' designed for professional use and are probably not going to get sufficient use to warrant the cost in a domestic setting.

And Finally ...

It is reported that more than half of denture wearers seldom, if ever, receive routine dental check-ups. However, follow-up appointments are essential—even for patients with full dentures and no remaining natural teeth.

Your dentist can assess the health of your mouth. Detecting problems early can dramatically improve outcomes, particularly in the case of oral cancers. In addition, bone loss as we age can result in poorly fitting false teeth that can cause embarrassment, problems with eating, and poor oral hygiene.

Statistics show that the average person with full dentures in the United States has had them for more than 17 years, but the recommended time between sets is 5-8 years. Food for thought! Perhaps it's time for you to make an appointment?

References

Below is a list of the articles I read and used as resource material in writing this article. In each case, I have provided the URL so that you can read the article in full, should you wish to do so.

  • Chrome Cobalt Dentures Q & A. (n.d.). Retrieved January 03, 2017, from Intelligent Dental http://www.intelligentdental.com/2012/04/10/chrome-cobalt-dentures-q-a/
  • Chrome Cobalt Upper Dentures Explained By A Dentist. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2017, from Dental Health Advice http://www.dental-health-advice.com/chrome-cobalt-upper-dentures.html
  • Denture Care. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from Jamie The Dentist http://jamiethedentist.com/denture-care/denture-care
  • Effect Of Denture Surface Glazing On Denture Plaque Formation. (2005, May-August). Retrieved January 03, 2017, from Brazilian Dental Journal http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-64402005000200008
  • Salcetti, M. A. (n.d.). The Pros and Cons of Thermoplastic Partial Dentures. Retrieved December 22, 2016, from Spear Education https://www.speareducation.com/spear-review/2015/09/the-pros-and-cons-of-thermoplastic-partial-dentures
  • Valplast Flexible Denture Cleaning And Patient Care Recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2016, from Flexible Dentures http://www.flexibledentures.co.uk/valplast-flexible-denture-cleaning-recommendations-and-patient-care/
  • Van Sant, C., RDH, BS. (n.d.). 5 Things You Should Know About Dentures. Retrieved December 20, 2016, from RDHMag http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-27/issue-7/feature/5-things-you-should-know-about-dentures.html

Author's Note: (n.d) indicates no publication date on the article.

© 2017 Alison Graham

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  • Alison Graham profile image
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    Alison Graham 6 months ago from UK

    Thanks, Jo, I really appreciate your comment - I enjoyed researching this article and hope it will prove useful to readers

  • jo miller profile image

    jo miller 6 months ago from Tennessee

    Great information and well presented.

  • Alison Graham profile image
    Author

    Alison Graham 6 months ago from UK

    Thanks so much FlourishAnyway - many people do not realize that bone loss after removal of teeth causes poorly-fitting dentures over time. Some people just put up with it because their false teeth used to fit - but there is no need to do so! I think it's a shame because it must cause a lot of embarrassment and spoil the enjoyment of meals too.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

    I don't have d d natures but this was a thorough and well informed article. I've seen people with poor fitting dentures that clickety clacked when they talked and you're right about fit.

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