Denture Care and Maintenance

Health topic

Placing a denture in water (or a denture cleanser solution) when it is not being worn helps the denture retain its shape, remain pliable and keeps it from drying out. Dentures should never be placed in hot or boiling water, which could cause them to warp. Denture adhesives are not a remedy for ill-fitting dentures, which may need to be relined or replaced to prevent oral sores from developing.

Denture Cleansers:

Like natural teeth, dentures should be cleaned daily to remove food particles and bacteria, and to help prevent dentures from becoming permanently stained.3, 4 In the case of implant-supported dentures, removing the denture allows for access to the implant abutments for cleaning.

The first step in cleaning dentures is to rinse away loose food particles and remove any denture adhesive. Next, a commercial denture cleanser for removable dentures, which come as tablets, creams, pastes, gels and solutions, should be used. Denture cleanser tablets are dropped into warm water to create an effervescent solution into which the denture is placed. Soaking dentures in cleaning solution can help reduce the bacterial load which may reduce denture-related odor. Manufacturer instructions should be followed regarding the amount of time dentures should be soaked. Denture-cleansing creams, pastes or gels are typically meant to be brushed on the denture after it is removed from the mouth and then rinsed off in accord with the manufacturer’s instructions.6, 7 It is important to note that denture cleansers are not to be used while dentures are still in the mouth.

Note: In addition or as an alternative to commercial cleansers, dentures can be cleaned with toothpaste or soap (i.e., mild hand soap or dishwashing liquid) with warm water and a soft-bristle toothbrush.3, 4 However, denture wearers should avoid using bleach or powdered household cleansers for cleaning their denture, as this may damage the denture.

Denture Adhesives:

 

Denture adhesives, also called denture adherents, are creams, powders, wafers or strips that are used to hold dentures firmly in place.9 The adhesive also helps form a seal that keeps food particles from sticking between the dentures and gums.6, 7Adhesive is applied to clean dentures, which are then positioned in the mouth and held in place for a few seconds, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ACP recommends that denture adhesive be used only in sufficient quantity (i.e., 3 to 4 pea-sized dollops) on each denture to provide added retention and stability.6, 7

A film of saliva is often all that is needed to hold dentures in place. Denture adhesives may be useful for those with dry mouth or xerostomia. Denture cream can help provide additional adhesion for well-fitting dentures, but may at best be only a temporary solution to the problem of an ill-fitting denture.10 A denture that fits poorly (i.e., feels loose or causes discomfort), may need to be relined or replaced.6, 7, 10 Ill-fitting dentures can contribute to the development of mouth sores or, with prolonged use, bone loss. Dental examinations and appropriate care will often help reduce or eliminate the need for denture adhesive products.

Some dental adhesives contain zinc and their overuse could contribute to excessive levels of zinc in the body.9, 10 High levels of zinc in the blood can lead to lower blood levels of copper, which can lead to neurologic or blood disorders.10 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration9 recommends the following for consumers who use denture adhesive products:
 

Follow the instructions provided with the denture adhesive. If the product does not come with instructions or the instructions are unclear, consult with a dental professional.

Do not use more adhesive than recommended.

Understand that some denture adhesives contain zinc, and that although they are safe to use in moderation as directed, if overused, they could contribute to harmful effects if overused.

Know that manufacturers may not always list their product ingredients.

Know that there are zinc-free denture adhesive products.

Stop using the denture adhesive and consult a physician if symptoms such as numbness or tingling sensations develop in the extremities.

Start with a small amount of adhesive—if the adhesive oozes off the denture into the mouth, that is likely too much adhesive.

Know that a 2.4-ounce tube of denture adhesive used by a consumer with upper and lower dentures should last seven to eight weeks.

Track the amount of denture adhesive used by marking on a calendar when a new tube is started, and when the tube is empty.

Consider speaking to their dentist to see that the dentures fit properly. Dentures can become ill-fitting as a person's gums change over time.

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