Toothbrushes and toothpastes are made specifically for cleaning teeth, and teeth are coated with enamel -- the hardest mineral in the human body. Dentures are made mostly from acrylic resin, which may be strong, but not nearly as tough as natural teeth. Abrasives and stiff brushes can scratch and wear down denture materials and they are not typically recommended when caring for denture appliances whether fixed or removable.
Cleaning dentures is similar to cleaning teeth because it should be done at least twice a day. One big difference with removable dentures, though, is that they can be removed after meals and thoroughly rinsed so all food particles are dislodged. Partial removable dentures also should be rinsed during the day and it's important to floss between the natural teeth supporting them. Often plaque builds up around the attachments holding the real and artificial teeth together, as well as on the real and false teeth themselves, and thorough hygiene is important. Soft-lined dentures also require extra care because the materials are more porous and less durable [source: Williamson].
Dentures should be brushed daily with a soft denture-cleaning brush and an ADA-accepted denture cleaner, a plain soap or a liquid dish wash. Mild cleansers keep dental appliances clean without wearing down the surfaces and they gently slough off stains from food and drinks. While brushing with a wet denture brush and cleanser, it's a good idea to keep the appliance above a soft towel rather than a hard sink or counter surface in case it slips out of your hands. Using hot water may damage or warp dentures, so lukewarm water is recommended [sources: NIH; ADA].
As mentioned, you should take your dentures out at night, and soak them in a denture cleaner or soap to keep them moist and help retain their shape. Ultrasonic machines are also an option for soaking dentures but should not replace scrubbing with a brush [source: ADA]. Avoid solutions with chlorine and any cleansers with bleach because they can tarnish metal, as well as whiten the pink areas.
It's also important to rinse the dentures thoroughly after soaking because the solutions can irritate mouth tissues and even make you sick. They are designed for cleaning dentures and not the human mouth so they should never be ingested [sources: Mayo Clinic; FDA].
Clean dentures deserve a clean mouth, too. Next we'll look at the denture support system.