There’s nothing quite like a fresh smile to give you confidence when you’re talking to or meeting people, but sometimes when you have dentures you may feel a little less like smiling because you can’t quite brush your teeth like those with their natural teeth.
Toothpaste is how most of clean our teeth and make our smiles look their best, but for someone who has dentures they may not be able to clean their teeth in that same way.
Many people who are new to having dentures will often ask if they can just brush them like they’ve just been so used to cleaning their teeth for years. The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be cleaned in their own way.
Why Are Dentures Different?
It’s important to remember that dentures are not the same as crowns. Crowns are a dental procedure where a cap is placed over top of a tooth that may have had extensive work done to it, or even had a root canal performed.
Dentures, while they have come a long way to look like natural teeth, are not the same as crowns and they must be treated differently. They are a long-term solution for those who are missing teeth or even have had severe tooth decay or gum disease, and they do require proper care.
Dentures are made of a material that is less sturdy than what crowns are made of so they need to be cared for differently than if you have crowns placed over your teeth.
The second part of this equation that you have to consider is the actual toothpaste you’re using. While most of us just think of toothpaste as a way to clean our tooth and freshen our breath, but there’s so much more to it than just that.
The majority of toothpastes out there are actually quite grainy and coarse, which is mostly for the benefit of removing and washing away the debris and food particles that might sit on our teeth.
For dentures, regular toothpaste is much too harsh on them. As mentioned, dentures are made from a material that is not quite as sturdy as crowns or even our natural teeth, so toothpaste will actually be too abrasive for them and cause long term damage to your dentures. The toothpaste will actually strip away a layer from the dentures, and can actually lead to them becoming discolored over time.
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Brushing With Dentures
So, does this mean if you have full or partial dentures that you don’t have to brush? Nope – you are not off the hook for brushing just because you have dentures.
When someone has dentures, it is still strongly recommended that you brush twice daily but it will just look different than it did before.
All patients who have dentures are recommended to purchase a very soft-bristled toothbrush and an antibacterial toothpaste to brush your gums. It is recommended to brush your gums in the morning before you put your dentures in, and at night when you take them out.
Brushing your gums will keep them healthy and protect them from bacteria and plaque that could still build up on the gums while wearing dentures. If someone with dentures doesn’t make sure they protect their gums it can lead to diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Both of these diseases will be made worse when dentures are, essentially, sealed to the gums and there is no room for the gums to breathe. These conditions can be really painful, and lead to ill-fitting dentures.
It’s important to make sure you are gentle with brushing your gums as we all know they are far more sensitive than your teeth. Take the time to adequately clean the open areas where each tooth used to be as those are prime locations for bacteria to build up – they are essentially little pockets.
It can also be really beneficial to get a good mouthwash to use after you clean your gum as it can wash away any bacteria you may have accidentally missed while brushing.
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How To Properly Clean Your Dentures
One of the most important factors making sure your dentures stay in great shape and your mouth isn’t sore or has bacteria growing under the dentures is cleaning them properly and keeping your mouth healthy.
Remove After Eating
Even if you can’t do a complete clean of your dentures after you eat, it’s important that you remove them and run water over them so that you can remove any debris or food particles that might be left behind. When doing this, you may want to run some water in the sink (with the drain plugged) or place a towel on the counter so that, if you drop them accidentally, you won’t break them.
Handle Them Carefully
It’s really important that you make sure you are handling your dentures carefully when cleaning them as they can be very fragile. Make sure to not bend or damage the plastic clasps on them.
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Clean Your Mouth After Removing Your Dentures
While you may think that you’re removing your dentures to just rinse off the food particles left behind, it’s just as important that you remember to clean your gums and your mouth even without the dentures. If you use denture adhesive, this step can help remove any adhesive left behind so it doesn’t build up on your gums.
Brush Your Dentures (At Least Once A Day)
Just as you would brush your teeth twice a day, you need to take your dentures out and brush them. Here is where the kind of toothpaste you select becomes really important.
You will need to remove them from your mouth (as they should not be brushed while wearing them) and use a soft bristled brush. You will also want to make sure you purchase a nonabrasive denture cleanser to remove any food, plaque or build up that might have happened over the course of a day.
On top of that, if you use a denture adhesive now is the time to clean it away from the groves that are there that fit over your gums to secure the dentures in place.
It’s very important you do not use any kind of denture cleansers inside your mouth.
Soak Your Dentures Overnight
It may not be common knowledge, but dentures need to stay moist in order to keep their shape. This is why you will notice people who wear dentures will soak them overnight in a solution. The water will be mixed with a gentle denture-soaking solution that they have purchased.
Your dentist will recommend the right kind of solution you should purchase for your specific dentures.
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What To Avoid With Dentures
When you have dentures, your dentist will recommend the best ways to take care of them however (over time) you may find that you aren’t quite remembering exactly what was said in those early days of wearing dentures. Overall, there are general guidelines for what to avoid and how to make sure you take the best care of your dentures.
No Whitening Toothpastes
Many toothpastes, currently, are advertised as having fantastic whitening properties but these toothpastes are very harmful for dentures.
These whitening toothpastes often contain peroxide, which works well on whitening natural teeth but will not really do anything for whitening dentures. Although this kind of toothpaste can weaken the structures of dentures, potentially.
Abrasive Cleaning Materials
As mentioned, avoid any products that would be coarse, grainy or abrasive to clean your dentures. They will damage the dentures long term and may remove layers of the material so your dentures will end up looking discolored over time.
Products Containing Bleach
Bleach is very strong and can be damaging to anything it comes into contact with – including dentures. On top of that, products that contain bleach can actually change the color of the teeth overtime so they look yellow and dull.
No Boiling Water
If you soak your dentures in water that is too hot, it can warp the shape of them which means they won’t fit your gums and your mouth in the same way anymore.
When your dentures don’t fit the way they should anymore, it can be really painful and uncomfortable to wear them. It can also mean you’ll have to purchase new dentures, and that can be really expensive.
When you wear dentures you do have to take some extra care to make sure they will last for a long time and won’t become damaged or look stained. The right kind of toothpaste to keep them looking their best will be one that is specifically designed for dentures as it will not be abrasive or containing whitening agents (which are not good for dentures).
If you have questions about the products you are using for your dentures, and if you’re using the right ones, the best person to ask is going to be your dentist. They are a professional and they know exactly what will work for your specific situation. Make an appointment for a follow up with them if you have specific questions.