Dentures replace natural teeth, but caring for them goes beyond regular brushing and flossing. Whereas partial dentures replace several teeth, full dentures replace the upper, lower and/or both sets in their entirety. Full dentures are sometimes secured in the mouth through an attachment to dental implants. With both types, however, oral care routines change before and after dentures.
Caring for Natural Teeth
Without dentures, it's important to follow the American Dental Association (ADA) and brush natural teeth for at least two minutes twice a day and floss between them once a day. A soft-bristled toothbrush and an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste are best for brushing natural teeth. The toothbrush must be the right size and shape for you to reach every tooth and the gum tissue in your mouth. Along with brushing the teeth, you should also brush your tongue, where bacteria often live. And every three or four months, or when the bristles fray (whichever is sooner), your toothbrush should be replaced.
Dentures and Dental Implants
Dentures are removable and made of various synthetic materials. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center finds most dentures are made from plastic, porcelain or a combination of both. Upper dentures also contain flesh-colored acrylic, and implants are sometimes used to attach dentures to the jaw bone. These implants protrude from the gum, as well as the denture attached to the protrusions that make the denture more secure and comfortable for the wearer, states Creighton University School of Dentistry.
Caring for Dentures
Oral care for partial and full dentures is different from caring for natural teeth. Caring for partial dentures involves normal care for the natural teeth, and removing and cleaning the partial denture. These partial dentures are attached with precision devices, although full dentures may be secured with pressure or implants. Both partial and full dentures should be removed once a day for cleaning, usually before going to bed at night. The ADA and the University of Michigan Health System advise partial and full denture wearers to stand over a towel or sink filled with water to avoid breaking the dentures if they are accidentally dropped.
How to Clean Dentures
Before cleaning, dentures should be rinsed in cool, fresh water. Then you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush such as Colgate® 360° Sensitive Pro-Relief™ to remove plaque and food deposits. Unfortunately, your everyday toothpastes, household cleaners and hot water are not suitable for cleaning dentures. Toothpastes and cleaners are too abrasive and can actually damage the denture surface, whereas hot water can warp their shape. Therefore, consider a denture cleansing solution that can clean the denture overnight. It is important to always clean dentures carefully to avoid bending attachments or damaging the plastic. Full and partial denture wearers should also continue to brush their gums, the remaining teeth and the tongue.
To prevent dentures from drying out and changing shape, they should be placed in a glass of water or denture cleaning solution at night. Sleeping with dentures in your mouth is not recommended and can cause irritation to the gum tissue.
Cleaning your teeth is a little different before and after dentures, but both methods involve a regular oral care routine using the correct products. And regular checkups at the dentist's are still required to ensure the dentures fit well. Caring for dentures in this way keeps your mouth fresh and healthy.