All surfaces of the oral cavity—including teeth, orthodontic appliances, and dentures—have a tendency to become coated with plaque, which is a transparent, sticky film that attracts bacteria and food particles. When oral care is not performed regularly, plaque begins to harden, which makes it difficult to remove. This can result in tooth and gum disease.
As is the case with natural teeth, brushing your dentures and gums at least once a day helps remove food particles and plaque, which will maintain good oral health. Doing so also keeps denture stains and bad breath odors from happening.
Steps for Daily Denture Care
Although dentures serve to replace the functions of natural teeth, there are some key differences to be aware of when caring for your removable pearly whites to keep them bright and long lasting.
- Dentures are usually made of a plastic resin and sometimes they contain metal parts. They are delicate and may break easily if dropped even a short distance. When holding dentures to clean them, hold them over a folded towel or a basin full of water to protect them.
- Remove loose food particles from dentures by first rinsing them thoroughly in water. But remember, rinsing alone is not enough to clean your dentures.
- Moisten a soft-bristled brush, preferably one designed for cleaning dentures. Hard bristles will scratch your dentures.
- Apply denture cleanser (choose one with the American Dental Association seal of approval). If you do not have one available, you may even use a mild hand soap or dishwashing soap.
- Gently scrub all surfaces of your dentures to remove plaque, while taking care not to scratch the surface.
- Thoroughly rinse dentures, as traces of cleanser or soap may irritate your gums.
- Before placing dentures back in your mouth, brush your gums, the roof of your mouth, and your tongue with a separate soft brush to remove plaque and stimulate circulation. Rinse your mouth well.
- Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, remove your dentures overnight (6-8 hours) to allow your gums to rest. During this time, store dentures in water. This will keep them from drying out and losing their shape. Keep your dentures away from children and pets.
Keeping your dentures clean is only part of the equation. You need to take care of them as well. Here are some things you can do to make your dentures last as long as possible.
- Do not try to adjust dentures yourself by sanding, filing, or bending.
- An adhesive may be recommended when you first get them to improve stability. After that you may use adhesives once in a while as a temporary measure for old or poorly fitting dentures. Ask your dentist about your options and look for adhesives with the American Dental Association seal.
- Do not use hot or boiling water, bleach, or other abrasive household products or items. This will cause dentures to warp and/or discolor.
- Do not attempt to scrape the plaque or tartar off with a sharp instrument.
- You can use conventional toothpaste to scrub, but do so gently to avoid abrasion.
- You can use an ultrasonic cleaner to care for dentures. But be aware that using it does not replace daily brushing.
When to See Your Dentist
Keep all regular fitting appointments when you get new dentures. Here are some things to be aware of that may prompt a visit outside of your normal appointments:
- Mouth sores
- Problems chewing food with your dentures
- Chronic cheek biting
- Cracks at the corners of your mouth
- Gums that begin to bleed easily
- Dentures that become loose in your mouth
The most effective way to keep your dentures in good shape is by daily brushing, in combination with cleaning the dentures with a chemical solution made for dentures. Keep your mouth in good health by cleaning your gums and oral cavity at least once daily.
Staying in contact with your dentist regularly is important to ensure that your dentures and oral health are optimal. Dentists not only perform cleanings but can also spot early signs of diseases, such as oral cancer.
American Academy of Periodontology
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
Canadian Dental Association
Dental Hygiene Canada
Dentures. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/Dentures. Accessed August 8, 2016.
Felton D, Cooper L, Dugum I, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the care and maintenance of complete dentures: a publication of the American College of Prosthodontists. J Am Dent Assoc. 2011;142:Suppl 1:1S-20S.
Learn more about denture adherents. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/dental-adherents. Accessed August 8, 2016.
What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease? American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: https://www.perio.org/node/258. Accessed August 8, 2016.
What is a denture? Know Your Teeth—Academy of General Dentistry website. Available at: http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=w&iid=186&aid=1230. Updated January 2012. Accessed August 8, 2016.
Last reviewed August 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 8/8/2016