Dentures – Home Care Instructions

The care and cleaning of dentures are important to the health of the oral tissues and the lifespan of the dental prosthetics.

Dentures MUST be left out at night; if not, underlying tissues become more prone to yeast infections, and shrinkage of the ridges may occur more rapidly, causing the dentures to need refitting or remaking more often.

Cleaning

  • A soft nylon brush, made for natural teeth, should be used to brush the tissues under the dentures and all other oral tissues daily. Holding the bristles under running hot tap water will soften them and make them more comfortable, no paste is needed. Besides brushing your ridges and roof of your mouth, it is also good to brush the top of your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.
  • A stiff denture brush and a toothpaste made for dentures should be used for brushing the dentures a minimum of two times per day – never miss at bedtime and after all meals is ideal.
  • If tartar (calculus) builds up on the denture, it can be removed by soaking the denture overnight in pure WHITE vinegar. Brush the denture again in the morning and rinse thoroughly before reinserting. It may take more than one night of soaking to remove all the calculus.
  • Stains from tea or coffee (or smoking!!) or certain foods or iron pills can be very hard to remove and often are not removed by regular brushing. Stains can be removed by occasionally soaking the denture in a 5-/50 mix of bleach of water – for just enough time to bleach out the stain. Check it every 15 minutes until the stain is gone, then rinse the denture well and throw away the solution.
  • During sleep, dentures must be left out, brushed and rinsed, stored in a denture bath of water and a squirt or two of liquid soap solution (use hand soap or dish soap). Rinse well in the morning before reinserting.

Eating

  • Stay with soft foods that are high in nutritive value until all sores are relieved and healed (1-3 weeks).
  • Consider taking a daily multiple vitamin.
  • Do NOT try difficult foods like apples or steak during the break-in period. Even after the break-in period, these difficult foods should be cut into small pieces before chewing. Let your fork and knife do much of the chewing for you.
  • Individuals with dentures are more prone to choking than those with natural teeth, so be careful. Do not speak and eat at the same time.
  • Chew your food well before attempting to swallow. Remember, it is perfectly normal for you not to be able to eat as well with your new dentures as you had been before, because it takes a lot of adapting for your tongue to get used to the new dentures and for your tongue and lips and cheeks to learn to balance the dentures in place.

Speech

Speaking with the new dentures may be more difficult for up to a few weeks, until your tongue adjusts to the new contour of your palate and lower jaw. It is common to whistle slightly on some sounds, especially “S” sounds; and also common to slur some words during this break-in period. Be patient and the adjustments will become automatic. If speech problems persist, many patients find it helpful to read out loud in front of a mirror, and to consciously try to adjust the sounds that do not sound normal to them. By practicing, the correction will be automatic.

Realistic Expectations

Complete dentures can only generate 20% masticatory forces (biting forces) at best; so it will take you about 5 chewing strokes to chew as well as one stroke when you had your own natural teeth.

Fit

Usually the complete upper denture will stay in by itself due to “suction” (border seal). Usually the lower will not stay in with suction because the center part is missing to create space for the tongue. If we cut the center part, the palate, out of the upper, it also would have no suction. Another thing that causes the lower to feel loose is the fact that the lower jaw is the one that moves during speech and eating, the upper is stationary. Also, the tongue is moving on the inside of the lower denture, constantly having a lifting effect. The solution to the lifting problem: If you ever wore an old pair of slippers, you know that you learned to keep them on by learning certain position of your toes that somehow gripped the slippers and kept them from falling off. In the same way, you must learn certain tongue positions that keep the lower denture from lifting. It is the tongue that keeps the denture in place. Denture adhesive should not be relied on to held the denture down, unless it is absolutely necessary. If you feel you must use it, use it sparingly, and any brand will do. Try a different one each time you buy some, and you will develop your own favorite brand.

Soreness

Movement of lower denture will cause soreness; it may take several adjustments. Please do NOT adjust these dentures yourself, as they may be damaged beyond what can be corrected. If you adjust your own denture, you will disqualify yourself from further professional adjustments in this clinic. We cannot replace dentures when the damage is caused by self-administered adjustments.

Cheek Biting

Cheek biting is very common in the first few weeks of wearing dentures. The dentist can adjust some of this problem, however, most of the time; the problem will correct itself as the muscles of your cheek become naturally tighter from wearing the dentures. Nature is not kind, however, and as we get older, more fatty tissue deposits inside our cheeks. Gravity pulls them down and they naturally get in the way of the teeth during chewing. To a large degree, there is nothing that can be practically done for this problem. Plastic surgery to remove some of this excess tissue can be considered. This problem occurs with natural teeth, as well as dentures.

Adjustments

You will be given adjustment appointments until no soreness is present; this may take one or several appointments. Adjustments are normal and it does not mean anything is wrong with your mouth or the dentures. Everyone’s mouth is different, and each denture is different, even on the same person. In between appointments, especially between the insertion and your first adjustment appointment, if you have significant soreness, you can purchase a tube of Benzodent at the pharmacy or grocery store. Squeeze some of the product from the tube onto the inside of the denture in the area where it hurts. Please do not use a substitute, like Oragel, because some patients experience a burning reaction from it.

After completion of all adjustments, you will be placed on a 6-month or yearly recall if possible, depending on your case. If you cannot be placed on a recall here, you should have your mouth and denture checked at least every year by a private dentist, to be sure all oral tissues remain healthy.

Old Dentures

Most old dentures should be kept as spares. When you get home, brush them as well as possible, and store them in a jar which has an airtight seal. Any small jar, like a peanut butter jar, with a wide opening, will do fine. Place the denture in the jar filled with water and dish soap – any brand will do – just put in several squirts. Seal the jar and keep in the event you need a spare, due to having your new ones repaired or relined.