DenturesOral prosthetics like dentures are an important investment in your health and well-being. Dentures imitate the form and function of our natural teeth, allowing us to eat, speak, and smile with confidence. As such, it’s important to carefully maintain your dentures so that they fit comfortably and beautifully for years to come.

How Long Do Dentures Last?

Dentures can be either full (replacing all the natural teeth in your mouth) or partial (fitted onto a band that spans your natural teeth and fills in your smile.) Significant advances in materials and techniques over the last couple of decades mean dentures today are significantly more comfortable, functional, and natural-looking than they were even 10 years ago. Most dentures last anywhere between 5 and 10 years. High-quality modern dentures may even last longer, especially in young patients with healthy mouths. However, the longevity of your dentures will largely depend on how you treat them each day. Here are a few important tips to extend the life of your denture and keep you smiling.

Clean Your Dentures Every Night

Even prosthetic teeth are subject to deterioration from daily use. Plaque and tartar can build up, food debris may hide in corners, and strongly pigmented food and drink can stain. So, to keep your dentures looking beautiful, brush them at least every night, just as you would your natural teeth. You may also want to clean your dentures after meals, or carefully rinse them after drinking wine or coffee, as both of these liquids greatly contribute to staining over time. Of course, cleaning your dentures calls for different techniques than brushing teeth:

  1. After removing, rinse your dentures under cool water. (Avoid hot water.)
  2. To clean dentures, utilize a special denture cleaning brush, which is shaped to clean more effectively. You can also use a regular soft-bristled toothbrush. Avoid hard bristles, as the abrasiveness can scratch dentures.
  3. Use a denture cleaning solution with the ADA’s Seal of Approval. Never use normal toothpaste or household cleaners to clean your dentures, as they contain abrasive materials and chemicals that can damage the denture.
  4. Carefully clean the prosthetic teeth and gums, as well as the part that fits against your mouth. Rinse again under cool water.
  5. In case the above steps didn’t make it clear, your dentures are fragile! Take care when cleaning so that you don’t bend or chip the prosthetic. In fact, it’s recommended that you place a towel on the counter or floor when cleaning your denture so that if it slips, it lands somewhere soft.

Clean Your Mouth Too

Your dentures are now clean, but that doesn’t mean your job is done! In order to keep your mouth healthy and help your dentures to comfortably fit in your mouth, it’s important to carefully clean and maintain your mouth. Gently brush your gums, palate, and tongue with a soft toothbrush. If you have partial dentures, carefully brush your remaining teeth. Do the same thing in the morning before putting your dentures into your mouth. This stimulates the gums, prevents plaque and food debris from lingering, and prevents bad breath.

Store Dentures in Water

One of the biggest faux pas of denture maintenance is leaving them out to dry. Dentures are meant to be in a moist environment. If they’re left to dry out overnight, the delicate shape can warp and twist. Not only does this change the appearance of your dentures, but it can also change the way that they fit in your mouth.

When you sleep, leave your dentures either in an overnight cleaning solution or in water. Even if you leave them in a cleaning solution overnight, remember to still clean the dentures--and your mouth--before going to sleep. Do not to sleep with your dentures still in your mouth! This could cause irritation to your gums, or even damage to your dentures if you grind your teeth at night (as often happens when you’re adjusting to a new bite alignment.)

Some Additional Tips

In order to keep your dentures feeling and looking their best, it’s important to be careful about which products you use to clean, maintain, and fit them. Some dentures will be anchored in your mouth using an adhesive material. Only use recommended products. Talk to your dentist, or our team here at Washington State Prosthodontics, to learn which brand and product will be best for your denture. When choosing a cleaning product at the store, make sure to check for the ADA Seal of Approval before you buy, which ensures that products are safe and effective for your use.

When Is It Time for New Dentures?

Even the most well-maintained dentures won’t stay perfect forever. Your denture will need to be re-fit periodically. With age, your mouth naturally changes shape, which will also change the fit of your denture. In addition, bone and gum ridges shrink over time when teeth are lost. This will change the foundation on which your dentures fit.

Uncomfortably-fitted dentures can cause sore gums, tenderness, discomfort in your bite, and mouth sores. As soon as your denture starts to feel like it’s fitting differently, give us a call. We can fix the fit of your denture so that it’s comfortable again.

However, sometimes it might be time for a new denture altogether. This could happen for any of the following reasons:

  • The shape of your mouth changes enough to warrant dramatic changes in the denture.
  • The dentures become visibly worn, stained, or chipped through poor maintenance.
  • You may also decide that it’s time for a change because you want an upgrade. Here at Washington State Prosthodontics, we offer All-on-4™1 teeth replacement, which are full dentures anchored with four dental implant “posts” to give you an entirely new smile.

Do you have questions about maintaining your dentures? Contact us2! We’re always happy to hear from our patients.