Dentures are a long-used oral care treatment for a variety of issues including lost or removed teeth, gum disease, tooth decay, and other maladies. As a refresher, dentures are removable synthetic teeth and gums that are custom fit to your mouth. Dentures are created with a hard resin combined with flexible plastic that closely resemble existing teeth.
Millions of people wear dentures to help correct problems like these, and dentures can also help a person speak clearer, eat a greater variety of foods, and bring back a confident smile. However, there is often confusion or debate on how dentures should be used and cared for. One look at an old adage might provide an answer.
Wherever it came from, the saying, “Take care of your dentures and your dentures will take care of you” is sage wisdom. Routine maintenance is a smart strategy for anything and dentures are no different. Regular cleaning and routine checkups will significantly improve their lifespan.
It’s really quite simple: Clean dentures are happy dentures. Rinse them with a soft toothbrush and always keep the entire inside of your mouth clean as well. If your dentures are not in your mouth, store them submerged in clean water. But what about duration; is there a recommended number of hours to wear dentures?
Wear them wisely
Even if you are the most disciplined and detailed in keeping your dentures clean, you must also pay close attention to how long you wear them. Most importantly, do not wear your dentures 24 hours a day, especially when you sleep. In fact, make this rule part of your denture lexicon: Stop wearing dentures while you sleep.
Is it really that big a deal to keep dentures in place after hitting the sack? It is, and here’s why:
Our jaw bones receive direct stimulation to grow from the process of chewing. Bone loss, then, is a natural result of tooth loss. Dentures cannot replicate this stimulation and since they put a lot of pressure on gums, continuous use of dentures has the ability to accelerate jawbone loss. Taking your dentures out at night greatly relieves pressure on gums.
Left unchecked, dentures are also prime breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria and fungi, irritation in the mouth, and unfavorable odors within the mouth. None of those are good things but removing dentures at night removes the habitat that nasty microorganisms need to breed and wreak havoc.
Disease and other health issues
Sleeping with dentures in place is also a fast track to gum or oral yeast infections and inflammation that can contribute to diseases in other parts of the body. Good oral hygiene cannot be stressed enough in its ability to reduce the risk of serious illness.
Consider a recent study with more than 500 randomly selected nursing home residents. The study revealed that seniors who wore their dentures overnight were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized or even die from pneumonia as those who removed their dentures. Of important note is the fact that breathing is one of the main drivers in elderly people of transporting bacteria from the mouth to the lungs.
Practice good oral hygiene
In addition to removing your dentures at night, you should develop and maintain all-around responsible oral health practices:
- Remove dentures after eating and rinse with clean water before returning them to your mouth
- Brush dentures daily with a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive soap like dish soap or dental cleanser
- Clean your gums and tongue every day
- Soak your dentures in a denture-specific cleanser to give them a thorough cleaning and remove any debris you couldn’t reach with your toothbrush
- Be sure to clean your dentures in a solution of warm water, not hot—hot water can damage the surface of dentures
- When cleaning, ensure the dentures are fully submerged in the solution
- When your dentures are removed from your mouth for an extended time, store them in an alkaline peroxide-based mix or at the very least, clean water
Remember, if you wear full or partial dentures, removing them at night is critical to give your gums and other important oral tissue a chance to rest and recover. This also helps dramatically extend the fit of your dentures and their lifespan.
For more information on dentures’ effect on sleeping, contact Albion Dental at (626) 387-3044 or albiondentalglendora.com.