How to Clean and How Not to Clean Your Dentures
Clean dentures last longer, smell fresher, and look better. It’s a simple fact, and yet it’s one that many denture-wearers overlook, neglecting to give their expensive fake teeth the time and attention that they need. It only takes a few missed cleans for those smells to creep in and just one incorrect wash to warp them or break them.
It’s important, therefore, to understand when and how to clean your dentures and your mouth, and that’s what we’ll look at in this guide.
How to Clean Your Dentures at Home
Just because you have dentures, doesn’t mean you can skip on dental hygiene. You might not need to floss, and you definitely don’t need to load-up on whitening toothpaste, but you will need to devote several minutes to keeping your dentures clean, because if you don’t, they will break, chip, and fall apart just like real teeth.
Soak them Every Night in XODENT Solution
Every XODENT kit comes with everything you need to clean your dentures and your partners’ dentures. We market it as an “All-in-One” solution, and we weren’t kidding, just take a look:
- 2 Denture baskets
- 2 Strainers
- 2 Soft-bristle brushes
- 30 cleaning tablets
Just pop your dentures into the strainer and add the strainer to the basket. Fill with warm water, add an XODENT cleaning tablet, and wait. The effervescent tablet contains specially-designed detergents that will gently remove stains from your dentures while killing the odor-causing bacteria that have accumulated there.
The brush will help you to remove stubborn stains and toughened pieces of food, but the effervescent tablets help as well, ensuring that your dentures are completely clean and ready for the day ahead.
Rinse After Eating
Food can cling to dentures, just like real teeth. It becomes trapped under the teeth and inside the mechanisms, and if you don’t remove it, bacteria will build up, stains will accumulate, and your breath will start to smell. It’s best, therefore, to rinse your dentures after eating, making sure there are no stubborn starches clinging to the metal and plastic.
Cold or warm water is enough. You don’t need mouthwash and if you’re just rinsing, you don’t even need an XODENT tablet.
Keep them Moist
Your dentures are designed to remain moist. When you’re wearing them, they’re moistened with your saliva; when they’re being cleaned, they’re soaking in water. This is how they work best, but if you take them out of your mouth and leave them on the nightstand, they’ll dry out and could become brittle.
Dentures that are left to dry will be more prone to cracks, chips, and warping. And that’s before you consider all of the potential germs that they could accumulate when you leave them unattended at the side of your bed.
It’s even worse if you’re leaving them unattended in your bathroom. You may have heard that your toothbrush will accumulate fecal matter if you leave it near the toilet. It’s true, and while that fecal matter is generally not in a dose large enough to cause harm, it’s still pretty disgusting.
If you do the same with your dentures, all of those particles are doing to find a different surface to rest on.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
You don’t have real teeth, so you don’t need to use a toothbrush, right? Not quite. It’s true that you don’t need hard bristle brushes and that you should give your electric toothbrush away, but you still need to use a brush to clean your mouth.
It’s important to do the following:1. Rinse Your Mouth
Every time you remove your dentures, whether you’re preparing for a night-time clean, you’ve just woken up, or you’ve finished a big meal, you should rinse your mouth out. Water is more than enough, and the act of swishing vigorously with water will help to draw the bacteria out of your mouth.
Oil pulling has gained in popularity over the last few years and is being recommended to everyone with real teeth and fake teeth. The idea is that you rinse with a substance like coconut oil to rinse out your mouth and all the little bits of food become attracted to the oil particles.
It makes sense, and it does work, but there isn’t that much of a difference between oil “pulling” and simply rinsing with water, and at least with the latter option you don’t need to waste all of that expensive oil!
2. Brush Your Gums
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, like the ones supplied in each XODENT kit, you should spend some time lightly brushing your gums each night before you go to bed. It will remove the bacteria that has accumulated there, and it will also stimulate blood flow, helping to reduce inflammation and improve healing.
You don’t need to use toothpaste, as many toothpaste products are filled with abrasive substances to remove plaque from enamel and fluoride to strengthen teeth, and none of those are necessary here. However, if you have toothpaste that isn’t highly abrasive, you can use a little bit.
In fact, there are products specifically designed to promote gum health and while these are not necessarily made with denture wearers in mind, they can be used for this purpose.
3. Use Mouthwash
You need to be careful how you use mouthwash. For instance, many types of mouthwash contain alcohol, which can dry out your mouth and your dentures. If you already suffer from dry mouth, this is a big problem and may worsen your bad breath.
Look for alcohol-free mouthwash and use it to rinse your mouth every now and then. It’s not essential, and you should never use it to soak your dentures, but it can help to freshen up your mouth in the morning.
4. Scrape your Tongue
Your mouth is a haven for bacteria. It’s moist, warm, and comes into contact with everything that you eat and drink. There are thousands of microbes in there and they have a habit of sticking around.
You can remove bacteria from your dentures when you soak them in XODENT, and you can remove them from your gums when you brush and rinse. But what about your tongue?
Rinsing will only go so far, and if you really want to make a difference, you need to use a tongue scraper, a soft-bristled brush, or the back of a toothbrush. This is not something that you need to do every day and you should also do it gently and carefully to avoid damaging your tongue.
Suck Mints and Chew Gum
You might be wondering how chewing gum and mints can help you to clean your dentures. It all comes down to your saliva.
Many denture-wearers have dry mouth. It can be triggered by everything from medication side effects and diet to old age and the fact that they are not chewing as much or as easily as they once did. They may even have reduced their intake of water because they find it hard to drink during those first few days.
In any case, saliva is essential for neutralizing acidity and killing bacteria. It will keep your mouth healthy and your breath fresh.
As a denture wearer, it’s important to look for non-sticky chewing gum. Chewing gum doesn’t stick to real teeth as they are coated in saliva and this acts as a barrier. But the same can’t be said for dentures and most gum will stick to the teeth and mechanisms.
Freedent is one of the few chewing gum brands that fit this description. Launched in the 1970s, Freedent is available in several different flavors. It is sugar-free, non-sticky, and will help to stimulate the flow of saliva while freshening your breath.
Drink Lots of Water
If you’re suffering from dry mouth, you need to increase your water intake and make sure you are drinking throughout the day. As noted above, it’s a problem that many denture wearers suffer from and while there can be a multitude of causes, simply not consuming enough water is one of the biggest.
The idea that you need to drink 8 glasses a day is a little misleading. If you live in a hot country, do a lot of exercise, and take diuretic medications, this just won’t be enough.
You might assume that you’re staying hydrated because you’re meeting those targets and you don’t feel thirsty, but the body isn’t very adept at signaling thirst for minor dehydration, and it gets less competent with age, and if you’re losing a lot of water through sweat, then you’ll need to take more in.
How Not to Clean Your Dentures at Home
As you can see, it’s very easy to keep your dentures and your mouth clean. There isn’t much to it, but at the same time, it’s very easy to get wrong, and you could make a mistake that damages your dentures beyond repair. With that in mind, it’s important to avoid all of the following:
Don’t Use Hot Water
It’s tempting to use hot water and even boiling water to clean your dentures. After all, not only will it kill many of those lingering microbes, but it will also remove stubborn stains.
It works for your dishes, so why not your teeth?
The problem is that dentures are made from acrylics, plastics, and thin metals, all of which can warp under great heat and pressure. Turning the faucet to the maximum and increasing the heat could damage them. At best, you’ll struggle to find a comfortable and snug fit; at worst, they’ll be damaged beyond repair.
Warm water is best. Anything slightly higher than room temperature is fine. When combined with an XODENT tablet, it should be more than enough to remove stains, smells, and pieces of food and won’t be enough to warp or damage the dentures.
Don’t Use Toothpaste
Toothpaste is designed for real teeth and not fake teeth.
The main ingredient in toothpaste is an abrasive, which is designed to scrub the plaque from your teeth. The same is true for whitening toothpaste, although in this case, the abrasive tends to be much strong. Other ingredients include fluoride, which strengthens your teeth and bones; hydrogen peroxide, which bleaches your teeth, and a bunch of additives to improve the flavor, color, and consistency.
None of these things are beneficial for your dentures and all of them can be incredibly harmful. Abrasives will scratch the synthetic surface and hydrogen peroxide won’t have the whitening effect that you desire.
As noted above, a little toothpaste can help to clean your gums, but you should never use it on your dentures.
Don’t Use a Hard Bristle Toothbrush
A toothbrush, just like toothpaste, is designed to be abrasive so that it can scrub the plaque off your teeth. With dentures, it’s only going to scratch and cut. It’s why you will find two soft-bristle brushes in every XODENT kit, as these bristles are soft enough to remove stains and trapped food without damaging the dentures.
By the same token, you should refrain from using metal scouring pads. It sounds crazy, but not everyone is clued-up on how to clean dentures and many people treat them like indestructible hunks of metal that can be cleaned just like plates and pots.
Don’t Use Soap
Denture tablets use a mild detergent, one that is strong enough to remove stains and kill bacteria, but not strong enough to harm the dentures. These tablets still need to be washed off, which is why you should always run your dentures under the faucet when you have finished cleaning them, but they’re relatively mild, so if trace amounts remain, you likely won’t notice them.
The same can’t be said for other types of detergent.
Think about the last time that you ran out of soap and washed your hands with dish soap. It’s thick, it’s greasy, and it takes a lot of warm running water to remove all traces of it from your hands. Now imagine having all of that on your dentures!
Not only will repetitive use of dish soap potentially harm your dentures, but when you put them in your mouth, a lot of that soap will remain, and you’ll be tasting it all do. If you do that for a few days in a row, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel some unpleasant gastrointestinal distress.
As for liquid hand soap, it can be just as problematic. Many soaps use moisturizing ingredients that are designed to restore moisture to your hands and create a barrier to protect against dryness. When you apply that to your dentures, it can be difficult to remove and some of it will end up in your mouth.
Be wary of using anything that is not designed specifically for dentures. You can create some homemade cleaning solutions using baking soda and you can even use a little mouthwash, but these solutions are temporary and if they are used to excess, you’ll likely harm your dentures or your mouth.
Even bars of soap can be problematic. They can dry out your dentures and it’s also very difficult to use them without getting little bits of soap scum everywhere.
Handle with Care
Dentures are not like mouthguards. They’re not flexible and resilient. In fact, they are incredibly fragile, and it takes just one drop to damage them. Once that happens, you may need extensive repairs from your dentist and if you were at fault for damaging them, that service won’t be provided free of charge, nor will it be cheap.
Take care when handling them, transporting them, and make sure you put them in a secure container before you go to sleep. If you have young kids or grandkids, keep them out of reach, as you never know what’s going through their curious little heads. An expensive and essential piece of equipment to you could be a fun little toy for them.
You’ll want to keep them away from cats and dogs as well, as it just takes one curious swipe or bite to render your fake teeth unwearable.
Summary: Cleaning your Dentures
The general theme of this article, and one that many denture wearers overlook, is that dentures are not like real teeth. They may look the same and serve the same purpose, but you need to treat them and clean them differently. Enamel is one of the hardest substances in the human body—it’s resilient, durable, and if you treat it properly, it will last throughout your life.
The same can’t be said for dentures. They are designed to look like the real deal, but they also need to be thin and light so that they feel comfortable, and this requires a tradeoff that reduces the strength and durability.
Keep this in mind the next time you think about carefully tossing your dentures on the dining table, leaving them to dry out on the nightstand, or scrubbing them with a hard-bristled toothbrush.
If you haven’t already purchased an XODENT kit, pick one up today and you’ll have everything that you need to keep your dentures and your mouth clean and healthy.