Dentures represent a substantial investment of your money and time. For patients without any natural teeth, dentures also play a big role in enjoyment of life – smiling, laughing, singing, kissing, and eating with confidence. Once you get a great-fitting set of dentures that look beautifully natural, you want them to last. Dr. Theodore Siegel of Big Smile Dental in Chicago shares these tips for denture longevity.
How dentures are made
To understand how to care for and protect dentures, it helps to understand how they are constructed. In the past, dentures often had a metal frame with pink acrylic “gums,” and porcelain teeth. While certainly sturdy, this type of denture is heavy. Plus, some patients have a sensitivity to the materials, or taste the metal.
Today’s patient has many options in denture materials in addition to the types described above. Current-generation acrylics and nylon resins are strong enough to withstand bite force without the metal framework. Teeth may be hard resin or porcelain.
While these materials – metal, ceramic, and plastic – may sound indestructible, dentures can break or become damaged. Keep reading to learn how to prevent this from happening.
How to keep dentures for a long time
- Clean dentures at least once a day. Fill the sink with tepid water to cushion impact in case you drop the denture. Moisten it with cool water (don’t use hot water – it could warp the base), and brush with denture cleanser; clear, unscented antibacterial hand soap; or mild, non-abrasive toothpaste. Use a denture brush or soft child’s toothbrush. Rinse again. Place on the towel and repeat with the other denture.
- Give them a soak. About once a week, soak dentures in a commercial denture cleansing bath, or a solution of vinegar and cool water. This sanitizes dentures and helps to control breath odors. Be aware that any form of household bleach, even if diluted, will damage dentures over time. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite which discolors plastic, so teeth become stained and the pink gum portion lightens.
- An occasional flossing is okay. It isn’t necessary to floss dentures for oral health, but it may remove stubborn bits of food debris that resist cleaning and soaking and contribute to denture breath.
- Store properly. Denture materials are meant to stay hydrated. Dentures should be removed at night, to keep mouth tissues healthy. During this time, keep dentures in plain water or use the opportunity to soak them in cleaning solution so they are fresh in the morning. Dr. Siegel also provides a case. Store dentures in the case anytime you must take them out for a short period of time, such as at the hospital.
- Enjoy with reasonable caution. Dentures are very strong, but they cannot withstand the same pressure as natural teeth. Enjoy eating, by all means, but keep this in mind with biting directly into or down on very hard foods, and keep pens, fingernails, and other objects out of your mouth.
- Remove carefully. If you use an adhesive cream, dentures can be difficult to remove. Pull the bottom denture slowly forward while rocking it gently up and down. For the top, place a thumb inside the two front teeth and press up and out toward the nose. Other slick tricks to loosen tight dentures include blowing up a balloon, biting an apple, or sipping a cup of tea or coffee.
- Do not DIY! If you damage a denture or it doesn’t fit comfortably, please do not try to repair or adjust it yourself. You will likely ruin it and you may be putting toxic chemicals (such as “super glue”) inside your mouth. Call Big Smile Dental at 773-772-8400 right away. In most cases we can help, and if necessary, we will express ship your denture to the lab for repair.
- Wear them every day. Your mouth changes shape quickly without dentures in place. If you set them aside for a while, you may find yourself with teeth that are loose and uncomfortable. Even with daily wear, mouth tissues change over time. If in good condition, dentures can be relined to maintain excellent fit. Dr. Siegel checks fit carefully at regular oral checkups.
At Big Smile Dental in Chicago, our goal is to get you into dentures that fit so comfortably you don’t miss your teeth, and to help you make them last many years. Call 773-772-8400.