Viewing entries tagged
smile

Sleeping with Dentures

Sleeping with Dentures

This is a very common question. Dentures (removable false teeth) offer a number of benefits to people who have lost their natural teeth: They can help them regain the ability to eat a greater variety of foods, speak more clearly, and smile with confidence. However, it’s important to recognize that there are also some downsides to wearing dentures.

For one thing, they put pressure on the gums and consequently the bony ridges beneath them. This causes resorption, a process that results in a gradual decrease in bone volume and density. Resorption and bone loss are accelerated if dentures are worn 24 hours per day. With the loss of bone comes inadequate support for the dentures, causing them to become loose and fall out more easily. This also results in less support for the cheeks and lips, which can cause very dramatic changes in facial appearance.

In addition, if they are not properly cared for, the under surfaces of dentures in particular can become breeding grounds for oral bacteria and fungi, which can cause odors, irritation and disease.

Resorption and bone loss are accelerated if dentures are worn 24 hours per day.

It has been found that those wearing dentures during the night while sleeping are more likely to have tongue and denture plaque, gum inflammation, positive cultures for Candida albicans (thrush, an oral yeast infection) and higher blood levels of interleukin-6 — a protein made by white blood cells that signifies the body is fighting an infection. Good oral hygiene among denture-wearers is very important and reduces the risk of serious illness.

For example, a recent study involving 542 randomly selected elderly nursing home residents found that the seniors who wore their dentures to sleep were 2.3 times more likely to die or be hospitalized from pneumonia as those who took their dentures out. The study noted that aspiration (breathing) is a significant means of moving pneumonia-causing bacteria from the mouth into the lungs in elderly people.

Whether you wear full or partial dentures, taking them out at night for sleeping gives the gums and other denture-bearing tissues a chance to rest, recover and receive beneficial exposure to the antibacterial agents naturally present in saliva.

There are other concerns. Wearing dentures continually, and especially at night when salivary flow naturally diminishes, often results in a condition called denture stomatitis (“stoma” – mouth; “itis” – inflammation). This affects tissues under dentures. Typically it occurs under upper full dentures that cover the palate, which becomes reddened, inflamed and infected with yeast. This is often accompanied by a disease called angular cheilitis, a cracking at the corners of the mouth and subsequent infection by the same yeast. Denture stomatitis is treated by leaving the dentures out at night, and cleaning them meticulously. Yeast infection is treated by anti-yeast or anti-fungal medication and/or chlorhexidine prescription rinses that can be prescribed by your dentist.

Whether you wear full or partial dentures, taking them out at night for sleeping gives the gums and other denture-bearing tissues a chance to rest, recover and receive beneficial exposure to the antibacterial agents naturally present in saliva. In short, removing your dentures at night is the healthiest thing to do.

A good oral hygiene routine for denture-wearers should include the following steps:

  • Remove and rinse your dentures after eating.

  • Brush your dentures at least once a day with a soft toothbrush, nailbrush or denture brush and dish soap, liquid antibacterial soap, or denture cleanser. (Don’t use toothpaste: it is too abrasive.) Using an effervescent (fizzing) tablet can’t substitute for this type of manual cleaning, and it might take some effort to remove the plaque or film that develops on the dentures.

  • Store your dentures in water or, better yet, an alkaline peroxide-based solution made for this purpose.

  • Brush your gums and tongue every day with an extra-soft toothbrush (not the one you use for cleaning your dentures) or clean them with a damp washcloth.

  • Rinse your dentures before putting them back in your mouth.

Even though you no longer have natural teeth, you still need to pay attention to your oral hygiene. Wearing your dentures 24/7 will prevent you from maintaining good oral hygiene, unnecessarily putting your health at risk.

Authored By: Dr. Kristen Vilardi-Shanley

Denture Care

Denture Care

Denture Care Instructions and Tips

Your dentures will last longer and fit better if you take proper care of them. Keep these points in mind to keep your dentures in top shape:

  • Clean dentures daily: Brush your dentures each day the same way that you would brush your teeth, with one key difference: Skip the toothpaste. Many commercial types of toothpaste can damage dentures. Instead, use a soft-bristle denture brush, designed specifically for cleaning dentures, and water to brush all surfaces of the dentures, but be careful not to bend any attachments. Rinse your dentures with water after each meal. You can buy specialized denture cleaners for soaking dentures, but soaking is not a substitute for brushing—you need to brush the dentures to remove plaque.

  • Treat dentures right: Fill the sink with water or place a folded towel in it when handling your dentures, so you don’t break them if they should fall into the sink. When you aren’t wearing your dentures, let them soak in cool water (preferably distilled/filtered water) to keep them from drying out. Be careful of cleaning solutions if your dentures have metal attachments—the solutions could cause the metal to tarnish. And don’t soak dentures in hot water—they could warp.

  • Remove your dentures (full or partial) every night: This allows the gum tissue beneath them a chance to rest.

How to Clean Dentures

Plaque can form on dentures, just like natural teeth. If they’re not removed every day, your dentures may look less white and bright. It is also important to clean your dentures with a denture brush and soak them in a cleanser solution daily to avoid odor.

  1. Clean your dentures over a sink filled with water to avoid damage if you drop them.

  2. Rinse dentures thoroughly in warm water to remove any loose food particles.

  3. Use a denture cleanser. (Conventional toothpaste, bleach, and vinegar are not designed for denture cleaning and could, in some cases, cause damage. Scratched dentures will harbor unsightly plaque bacteria, causing denture odor. Harsh products like bleach may even turn the pink parts of your dentures white.)

  4. Moisten a denture brush (soft-bristle toothbrush or denture toothbrush) to clean all surfaces of your denture gently. Brushing too hard can damage any plastic or metal parts. Rinse and brush in clean, warm water.

  5. Brush your gums, tongue and natural teeth with a fluoride toothpaste before reinserting your dentures. This will help remove plaque from your teeth, stimulate circulation in your mouth and help maintain good oral health.

  6. Rinse with a mouthwash after brushing to give your mouth a refreshed feeling.