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Caring for Your New Dentures

Dentures are made of acrylic, a type of plastic. Once they are cast, the laboratory polishes the acrylic to a high gloss. The purpose of this polish is for comfort, appearance and hygiene. Rough acrylic will collect tartar and harbor bacteria and hence, odors can occur. As such, it is important to retain this high polish on your denture to make them easy to clean and prevent them from becoming foul smelling. To retain this polish, be sure to not brush dentures--whether it be a regular toothbrush or a denture toothbrush. It is best to rely on effervescent denture cleaners, like Polident or Efferdent to do the majority of denture cleaning. Should stubborn debris require mechanical removal, use a soft washcloth instead of an abrasive brush.

Older dentures will often show signs of tartar buildup. This looks like a hard, rough, tan or beige accretion on the denture. To remove this tartar, do NOT scrap at the denture. Use a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water and soak the denture in it overnight. This acidic solution will break down tartar. Heavy accretions may require a second overnight soak. Periodic soaking in the vinegar water solution will keep it from reoccuring.

Commericially available ultrasonic denture cleaners are available today for home use that do a great job at cleaning dentures. These small units vibrate away plaque and debris, keeping the denture clean and hygienic.

If a denture is to be stored a long time out of the mouth, keep it in water and use a few capfuls of Listerine or another non-toxic anti-bacterial rinse to keep the water from growing algae, bacteria or mold. Change this water every month or so. A denture should not be allowed to dry out since Acrylic is a porous material that holds water in its matrix. Allowing an acrylic denture to dry out is not recommended.

Should your denture ever break, do NOT use cyanoacrylate glue (Crazy Glue) on the prosthesis. This type of glue penetrates deeply into the acrylic and can make repairing the denture more difficult, if not impossible. Should you need a quick repair, denture repair kits which provide a small quantity of acylic denture material in its liquid/powder form, are available to do your own repair. It is the only material you should use on the denture for repairs. In fact, it is the same material a lab would use to conduct the repair. If you do it well, it can be a permanent fix to the problem.

Prosthodontists recommend that your dentures be relined about every five years. Wearing a denture and applying denture to the bone under the gums, causes bone resorption. Patients with poorly adapted dentures can lose as much as a millimeter of bone every year. Heavy resorbed ridges can make wearing a denture very difficult and retention poor. Keeping the dentures well adapted to the gum and bone which support it is one way of preventing excessive bone loss. While a denture may have good suction, it does not mean it is well adapted to the tissue. Many individuals will only seek out a reline once a denture no longer stays in place. By this time, there may have been significant bone loss and a reline may not correct the poor retention issues that bring the patient in.

Dentists see many elderly patients who have severely resorbed ridges. These are caused by wearing poor fitting dentures for many years. In such cases, only costly and difficult bone grafting operations can rectify the problem. In some cases, the mandible can become so resorbed and thin that the bone can actually break when the patient bites hard on a denture! As such, denture wearers--especially young denture wearers--must take measure to preserve their bone. Decade of wearing a poorly adapted denture can do major damage to the bone ridges.