An unfortunate myth among people considering dentures is that you never have to worry about your teeth again. The truth is that you do have to worry about your “teeth” because dentures can harbor microorganisms just as natural teeth can. Dentures can also pick up stains and begin to look dingy, just like natural teeth can. For the best long-term health and appearance of your dentures, you must commit to keeping them clean.
THE RISKS OF NOT PROPERLY CLEANING DENTURES
There are risks associated with dirty dentures. While the most compelling one may be that they simply look dirty, there are also risks that can actually harm you.
The complication of unclean dentures that carries the most risk for pain, discomfort, and/or transmission is a fungal infection commonly called “thrush”. Thrush is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans, typically occurring on the roof of the mouth underneath the denture. Thrush is more likely in patients with a dry mouth or in those who do not remove the denture regularly. The fungus causes inflammation, which leads to bright red, tender gums. When this infection occurs, patients require anti-fungal medication and a significant period of “rest” for their gums without the denture in place to heal.
In addition to a fungal infection, a lack of cleaning dentures often allows the buildup of food debris between the denture and gums. This, too, can cause sore spots, irritation, and mouth ulcers.
And of course, there is the cosmetic risk of not cleaning your dentures. They will accumulate staining, which will alter the color of both the plastic teeth and the acrylic gum tissues. Attempting to remove these accumulated stains (as opposed to preventing them) can cause abrasion of the denture, changing the shape and appearance of the teeth and gums.