Dentures offer a boost of confidence and pain relief after losing your natural teeth. However, patients who don’t know how to clean their dentures put themselves at risk of serious infections that diminish their gums and healthy teeth.
In this article, we discuss how to clean dentures, what to avoid when wearing dentures, and maintenance tips to take proper care of your false teeth.
Cleaning dentures regularly prevents a range of complications from harmless stains to serious infections.
Remove, rinse, soak, and brush your dentures with cleaning solutions as part of your daily routine to maintain good oral health.
Homemade denture cleaning products are easy and affordable to make but ineffective at targeting the bacteria responsible for plaque and denture stomatitis.
To maintain your dentures, avoid abrasive tools and products such as hard bristle brushes, regular toothpaste, and boiling water.
Dentures can’t cause gum disease, but your natural teeth and gums are still at risk and require proper care.
Full dentures, partials, and dental implants have different forms and functions, but all require a consistent cleaning regimen.
See a dentist regularly to remove plaque from your false teeth and examine your mouth for any other risks to your oral health.
Failing to properly clean dentures can deteriorate their appearance, weaken their functionality, and diminish the overall health of your oral cavity.
Similar to natural teeth, false teeth can develop unsightly stains and harmful plaque buildup if they are not cleaned regularly. In turn, plaque contributes to bad breath, the accumulation of microorganisms over the dentures, and the development of a painful fungal infection, known as denture stomatitis .
Denture stomatitis is a chronic yeast infection that can result in sore spots, inflamed gums, or mouth ulcers. It can usually be treated with antifungals and, if necessary, antibiotics.
While dentures themselves cannot cause gum disease, your natural gums are still at risk from poor hygiene. Additionally, a recent study found that infrequent, or nonexistent, cleaning regimens lead to an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia in elder denture wearers .
Several complications may arise from failing to clean your dentures. These range in severity, from cosmetic issues such as staining and bad breath to serious infections and pneumonia.
For the best way to clean dentures, follow these steps:
Dentures are significantly more fragile than natural teeth, so it’s important to remove them carefully and completely before beginning a cleaning regimen.
Place a folded towel over your workspace to prevent the denture from breaking in the event of a fall. Use your fingers to pull the dentures gently from your mouth. If you find resistance, gargle with warm water to loosen the denture adhesive from your gums.
If you have a partial denture, release it by lifting the metal parts on both sides of the denture. If you have implant-supported dentures, you can remove the denture to access and clean the underlying abutment .
Do not confuse denture-supported implants with dental implants. Dental implants are not removable. If you’re considering dentures vs. implants, ask your dentist about their appropriate cleaning methods.
After removal, be sure to rinse dentures under warm water. This will prevent loose food particles from becoming trapped, remove any remaining denture adhesive, and make brushing significantly easier.
For optimal oral health, the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) recommends that you brush your dentures daily with a non-abrasive toothpaste and a denture cleanser.
It may be beneficial to obtain a denture brush but know that a soft bristle toothbrush works effectively at removing trapped food debris and any remaining adhesive from your false teeth.
Brush your natural teeth and gums as well, but avoid putting denture cleansers inside your mouth.
Dentures should never be worn continuously i.e., for an entire 24 hours. When not in the mouth, dentures need to be stored in liquid to maintain their moisture and shape.
It’s important to soak your dentures to reduce the layer of bacteria that causes odors, stains, and plaque. Dental professionals recommend that patients leave dentures overnight in a soaking solution of warm water and an over-the-counter dental cleanser. These often come in the form of tablets, gels, creams, or pastes.
Some sources recommend mouthwash, vinegar solution, or even detergent as a denture-soaking solution, but studies have shown that these are not effective at targeting the bacteria that cause denture stomatitis .
Be sure to verify the method for storing your dentures overnight with your dentist and the manufacturer of your dental cleanser.
You must rinse your dentures thoroughly before placing them back in your mouth the next morning. Make sure there’s no residue of the denture cleanser, as these cleansing solutions contain chemicals that are not safe for consumption. They have been known to cause potentially serious side effects including vomiting, low blood pressure, internal bleeding, and seizures .
The best way to clean your dentures is through a daily regimen that involves careful removal, consistent brushing, and nightly soaking to prevent deterioration.
There are several ways to clean your dentures at home that often involve the use of common household products. While homemade denture-cleaning remedies are a popular option, experts have labeled some as unsafe and ineffective. Below we discuss the effectiveness of cleaning your dentures at home with peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda.
While it’s possible to clean your dentures with a homemade solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, most commercially available denture cleansers already contain peroxide. These cleansers are generally more effective at killing bacteria than household remedies .
Denture patients often use a mixture of vinegar and warm water as a mild cleansing solution. However, while vinegar is unlikely to cause harm to the surface of your dentures, it is ineffective at targeting the bacteria associated with plaque .
Denture wearers have been known to mix baking soda and water to form a cleansing paste.
Like other homemade remedies, baking soda is not capable of eliminating the microorganisms that cause denture plaque .
Baking soda is not recommended for cleaning dentures because it is highly abrasive and can scratch their surface . These scratches make it easier for dentures to accumulate bacteria.
While homemade dental cleansers are quick and affordable, they’re not recommended. Many homemade solutions cannot fight plaque-forming bacteria.
Take note of these useful tips to care for and maintain your dentures:
To keep your dentures in good shape and maximize their lifespan, avoid the following:
The most effective denture maintenance tip is to follow a daily denture cleaning regime:
To ensure your oral cavity remains healthy, it’s necessary to schedule regular checkups with a dentist. Your dentist may remove plaque, perform an ultrasonic cleansing, and correct loose fittings dentures. These checkups should occur annually unless otherwise recommended by your dentist.
It’s recommended that you schedule additional checkups under the following circumstances :
Proper care and maintenance of your dentures are paramount in maintaining your oral health. Some best practices include avoiding abrasive tools and products, implementing a daily routine, and scheduling regular checkups with a dental professional.
Partial dentures are different from complete dentures in form and function, but the methods and best practices for cleaning them are generally the same.
Like full dentures, partials require daily rinsing, brushing, and overnight soaking to prevent bacteria and plaque buildup. However, not all partial dentures are made of the same material. These differences need to be considered for an effective denture cleaning routine.
Some partial dentures, like flexible dentures, are made of thin thermoplastics. They are harder to repair and more prone to staining than other types of partial dentures .
Other partial dentures are held together by a metal framework. Due to these metal parts, some substances commonly used to clean your dentures, such as bleach and chlorine, would corrode the structure of a partial denture. Also, some common methods of cleaning complete dentures, such as microwaves, are completely off-limits.
Consult with your dentist to determine the best partial dentures and cleaning practices for your needs.
Partial dentures require the same daily cleaning regimen of full dentures with additional consideration for the needs of their metal attachments.
While consistent at-home denture care is imperative, frequent professional denture cleanings have been shown to drastically improve the appearance of false teeth and the quality of life for patients .
A dental professional can deep clean your false teeth by removing stains and plaque that home remedies and commercial cleansers cannot. They will examine your dentures for correct fit and function, as well as your mouth and gums for any lesions or bone loss.
Patients should schedule annual appointments with a professional to have an ultrasonic irrigation cleansing.
It’s recommended that you see a professional for denture cleaning annually to ensure optimal oral health.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding denture cleaning.
All-natural denture cleaners are homemade solutions that lack the complex chemicals used in a commercial denture cleansing solution. While these solutions are mild and affordable, they are likely ineffective in preventing bacteria from accumulating on the surface of dentures. Examples of all-natural denture cleansers include warm salt-water solution, baking soda paste, or vinegar and water mix.
The best thing to use to clean your dentures is a commercial denture cleaning solution in combination with a soft toothbrush or denture brush.
Studies show that daily brushing with an over-the-counter dental cleanser is safer and more effective at fighting the bacteria that leads to dental stomatitis than toothpaste, certain mouthwashes, and other common care methods .
You can clean your dentures at home by brushing them daily with a non-abrasive toothpaste and then soaking them overnight in dentist-recommended solutions. Some patients create a homemade denture cleaner out of vinegar, baking soda, or detergent, but these are generally ineffective.
To clean your dentures, place them in a mixture of warm water and an over-the-counter denture cleaning product. They’re available in tablets, gels, and pastes, specifically designed to target the microorganisms that result in plaque on your false teeth.
Before soaking, rinse under warm water and brush to remove any food debris. Remember to brush and rinse the cleanser off completely before putting dentures back in your mouth.
You should soak dentures overnight in a liquid solution to maintain their shape and reduce bacteria growth. It’s recommended that you use a commercially available denture cleanser, as these products are non-abrasive and contain active ingredients that reduce the biofilm associated with denture stomatitis.
You should not soak dentures in hot water, boiling water, or cold water. False teeth are easily warped by extremely high temperatures, while cooler temperatures are ineffective in aiding bacteria removal. Using warm water with a denture cleaner is the safest and most effective way to preserve their form and longevity.
Wearing dentures can lead to a significant confidence boost after losing natural teeth. However, failing to clean false teeth results in painful and unnecessary complications.
Denture teeth are fragile and require care and research when developing a maintenance routine. People with false teeth should implement tools and products that are safe for denture teeth, such as a denture brush, a non-abrasive toothpaste, and an over-the-counter cleaning solution.
Most patients will require annual checkups with a dentist to examine their teeth, gums, and mouth for any underlying health risks. Be sure to schedule professional appointments regularly in addition to maintaining a consistent at-home routine.