Many people used to think that once they lost all their natural teeth their dental worries were over. This is not the case.
When teeth are extracted, the bone that held them in the jaw resorbs (shrinks), so that the bony support for dentures constantly changes. This is a problem particularly in the lower jaw, where extensive bone loss can occur, making it very difficult for some people to control their lower denture. Hence, dentures should be checked every five years. As bone in the mouth constantly changes in shape, it is clear that individuals cannot expect a set of dentures to last for life. Some people may find denture fixatives helpful, but they are only a short term solution. The main constituents of fixatives are tragacanth gum which may cause constipation, and kanaya gum which can decalcify dental enamel. This can be a major problem if the individual still has some natural teeth present. Home-use denture repair kits and relining kits to make dentures fit more comfortably are not recommended. Temporary repair kits are sometimes useful to mend fractured dentures in an emergency, but broken dentures are best mended by a dentist, or locate a clinical dental technician at www.cdtai.ie for denture treatments.
- Dentures should be cleaned at least once a day with soap/nonabrasive denture paste and a soft toothbrush.
- A soft nail brush is a useful alternative for people whose manual dexterity is compromised.
- Clean your tongue and roof of your mouth with a soft toothbrush.
- Put your dentures in cold water when they are out of your mouth to prevent warping.
- Soaking the denture once or twice a week in a diluted 2% sodium hypochlorite solution will help keep them really clean, but they must not be soaked in hot water.
- Disinfectants containing bleach should not be used on dentures with any metal components.
- Dentures should be removed before sleeping and kept out of the mouth for 6 to 8 hours each day to give the gums a chance to rest.
- Partial dentures should be removed after eating and rinsed under cold water.
- If your partial denture has a metal clasp, do not use any cleaning agents containing bleach.
- Don't forget to clean and floss your remaining teeth using a soft/medium toothbrush and flouride toothpaste.
- Don't wear your dentures 24 hours a day. This helps to prevent fungal infections.
- If you get an ulcer/sore in your mouth that does not heal within two weeks, see your dentist.
- Visit your dentist regularly, even if you have no teeth of your own, to ensure your mouth and gums stay healthy.
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Oral Health Matters booklet on Denture Care was produced by the Oral Health Promotion Team, Dental Service, LHO Cavan/Monaghan, Meath & Louth, HSE (Dublin North East) 2008.