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How to Keep Your Mouth and Dentures Healthy

Some Denture Do's and Don'ts
You should always take your dentures out at night and soak them in a denture cleaner or soap to keep them moist and help them retain their shape.
You should always take your dentures out at night and soak them in a denture cleaner or soap to keep them moist and help them retain their shape.

While there seem to be a lot of instructions that come along with getting dentures, two of the most important cover a lot of territory: Do take your dentures out overnight for cleaning and don't accept or try to adjust to an ill-fitting set. Cleaning the teeth -- real and manmade -- and caring for and resting the gums and mouth are essential for denture wearers, and having a proper fit ensures getting the most out of them for the longest amount of time.

Adhesives can fall in both the "do" and "don't" categories. While muscles in the tongue and cheeks are adjusting to the new dentures, an adhesive may help prevent the dentures from excess slippage while you re-learn how to chew and talk [source: CUCDM]. Using adhesives for the long term and to secure improperly fit dentures, however, is considered a bad idea because it can lead to mouth sores and changes in the way facial muscles compensate [source: ADA]. If you feel like you have to use an adhesive to make your dentures fit, it may be time to have them adjusted.

Some individuals just prefer the extra security of wearing an adhesive, even with properly fit dentures and that is generally fine [source: CUCDM]. Powder adhesives work well if used temporarily, and they may be easier to clean off of appliances than pastes. And if you choose to use a paste, use a small amount and clean your dentures very well after removing them to maintain a proper fit and good oral hygiene. A dentist or prosthodondist -- a specialist in dental appliance care and shaping -- can advise you on adhesive usage [source: ACP].

Taking dentures out overnight is a definite "do." If they're left in too long, infections, swelling, and mouth and gum sores can develop and bacteria levels will grow on teeth and/or dentures. Gums also need to rest or inflammation will develop. However, don't let your dentures dry out overnight or they can lose their shape and become brittle. Keep them in water or specialized cleansers and change the water solution daily [sources: CUCDM; NIH].

Some other don'ts to consider include the following:

  • Don't try to adjust or fix dentures yourself; you can cause permanent and expensive damage.
  • Don't use tooth picks or hard dental scrapers. Dentures don't have the sensations of natural teeth and you may poke and damage soft mouth tissues.
  • Don't practice eating with scalding hot or icy cold foods and beverages. Getting used to registering hot and cold without natural teeth can be tricky at first.
  • Don't bite and pull with tugging motions and avoid using front dentures on hard foods. Small bites and even, up and down motions prevent breakage or wear.

Next we'll look at the do's of cleaning and caring for dentures.