If you polled a group of people as to what their ideal set of teeth would look like, straight, white and shiny would probably be the overwhelming answer. It might not make the top three, but strong pain-free chewing ability is also crucial for a good set of chompers. While some folks can keep their natural smiles as they age, some may need dentures to complete a beautiful, functional smile. One challenge that goes along with wearing dentures is the denture whitening process.
What Do Dentures Do?
Dentures serve as a substitute for missing teeth. They can easily be taken out and
re-inserted. While they won't feel like your original teeth, modern dentures can fit comfortably and be quite natural looking, whether you need a full or a partial set.
Custom made in a lab from impressions of your mouth, full dentures are housed by a flesh-colored acrylic base designed to fit over your gums. Full dentures will be either conventional or immediate. Conventional full dentures are placed after the mouth heals from tooth removal, which can take several months. Immediate dentures are inserted right away and re-lined after a few months.
Denture Whitening Methods to Avoid
Cleaning and whitening your dentures takes special care since they aren't made of the same material as normal teeth. Whitening toothpastes, for example, lighten tooth enamel with peroxide, which does not change the color of denture resins. According to the Mayo Clinic, anything abrasive – stiff-bristled brushes, harsh cleansers and harsh toothpastes – can scratch the surface of dentures. You should also avoid trying to whiten your dentures with anything that contains bleach, since it can discolor and weaken the material. The chlorine found in some cleaning products can also corrode the metal wires on partial dentures.
Safe Denture Whitening Methods
However, just because you wear dentures doesn't mean you can't have a white smile. To clean them at home, start by brushing them daily. Brushing will help remove food and plaque while preventing staining. For a regular deep clean, ask your dentist to recommend a non-abrasive denture cleaning solution that will remove stains and kill bacteria. To prevent stains in the first place, it helps to remove your dentures and give them a quick rinse after enjoying highly pigmented foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea, wine or berries.
Before you use anything to clean your dentures, remove them from your mouth. Rinsing dentures thoroughly after using any cleaning agents can help keep them from irritating your gums and tongue. When your dentures aren't in use, place them in a denture soaking solution or warm water to prevent them from drying out.
Gently brush your dentures with a low abrasive toothpaste to remove any plaque and food debris on them with a soft toothbrush and rinse well. You may have heard of various home whitening remedies, such as lemon juice or baking soda, but even these natural methods may affect your teeth and dentures – both the real ones and the false ones.
If you want your dentures as clean and white as they can get, schedule a dental appointment. Your dentist or prosthodontist can polish them to remove stains in just a few minutes. Similar to regular teeth cleanings, you should have your dentures professionally cleaned twice a year.
No matter what your denture care question is, talk to your dentist before trying any home whitening or cleaning methods. Your dental professional's role is to provide you with the best care for your smile, whether it's brand new or one you've had for years.