When people get dentures, one of the more common questions they ask is why they should take out their dentures at night. Dentists are happy to cover the care of dentures, but patients may not ask other questions until after they’ve left the office.
It turns out there are many health concerns associated with regularly wearing dentures. While cleaning them is important, it isn’t the only thing to worry about.
Damage to Jaw and Gums
Dentures put pressure on the gums, and consequently, the bone underneath. Pressure on bone can cause something called resorption. Resorption is a natural process by which bones under pressure gradually decrease in bone volume and density. This results in less support for the cheeks and lips, which leads to changes in facial appearance. It can also cause your dentures to fit more poorly, which can cause pain or make them fall out more easily.
Wearing your dentures 24 hours a day speeds up this process and doesn’t give your bones and gums a chance to heal.
That isn’t the only reason to give your mouth a rest, either.
Dentures that aren’t properly cleaned under the surface can become a breeding ground for not just bacteria but a type of fungus called Candida albicans, also known as thrush or an oral yeast infection. This can cause sores and pain on the gums, tongue, and cheeks. This is exacerbated by the decrease in saliva we all experience at night, which results in a condition called denture stomatitis. This condition causes the gums and the roof of the mouth, which is covered by dentures, and causes inflammation, redness, and infection. This condition is also often accompanied by a disease called angular cheilitis, which is a cracking at the corners of the mouth and subsequent infection by yeast.
Not preventing these types of infections can cause disease and irritation, as well as bad breath. Wearing dentures while sleeping and not properly cleaning out the area underneath your dentures is known to lead to higher blood levels of something called interleukin-6. This is a protein made by white blood cells that signifies that your body is fighting an infection.
Studies have shown that people who wear dentures at night are also more likely to have tongue and dental plaque and gum inflammation. This type of breeding ground has also been shown in a study to increase the risk of complications from diseases like pneumonia. The study notes that aspiration (breathing) moves pneumonia-causing bacteria from the mouth into the lungs in elderly people.
To avoid these potential complications, it’s important to take care of your dentures properly and part of that involves taking them out at night.
Care of Dentures
You should remove and rinse your dentures after eating.
You should brush your dentures at least once per day using denture cleanser or antibacterial soap. Don’t use toothpaste as it’s too abrasive. Those fizzy tablets can’t substitute for manual cleaning. You have to remove the plaque or film that develops on your dentures.
You should store your dentures in an alkaline peroxide-based solution made for soaking dentures at night.
You should brush your gums and teeth every day with an extra-soft toothbrush, or clean them with a damp washcloth.
You should rinse your dentures before putting them back in your mouth.
If your dentures are partial and you still have some of your natural teeth, you’ll be dealing with 2 kinds of oral maintenance. Each of these types of maintenance (or lack thereof) will have an impact on your health, not just in your mouth, but throughout your body.
Talk to your oral healthcare professional about tips they have for maintaining your dentures and preventing issues. They might have recommendations for what products you should be using for the best effect, and they can help spot issues before they become serious.