Dentures, Retainers, Bite Guards, Aspiration Pneumonia, OH My!

Appliances of the dental variety need special care. They can get quite smelly!  Smell=bacteria.     Dentures, partial dentures, retainers, sleep appliances, and bite guards:  bet someone in your house owns at least one of them.  Do you know how to properly care for them?  And, as I alluded to in the title- yes, there is a connection between denture wearing and pneumonia as well as exercise induced asthma.  So, senior citizens, moms and dads of athletes with sports guards, athletes  and any other folks with an appliance- read on for how to’s and why’s and other pearls of dental wisdom regarding your appliance.

Dental hardware- whether it’s a denture, partial denture, mouthguard, retainer, orthodontic appliance,  sleep appliance, or any other dental contraption, NEEDS to be cleaned daily.   Research shows that it is highly contaminated with bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold, and microorganisms from strep to staph to pneumococci.  These appliances are porous, and the microbes worm their way into these deep microscopic porosities and live quite happily off the food and water you provide on a regular basis.

Caring for your Denture or Partial Denture, or other Appliance

 Rule #1: Your appliance is either in your mouth or in the case.                         Prevent  breakage, loss, or animal chew toy.
Appliances are costly.
(Some of the following suggestions apply more to dentures and partial dentures.)

    • Remove your denture after every meal and rinse it.
    • Place a towel in the sink or put water in the sink when removing dentures so they won’t break if you drop them.
    • Clean the soft tissue in your mouth with an extra soft toothbrush, a clean, damp cloth or a Spiffies wipe.  Xylitol helps heal.    (My favorite extra soft toothbrush is the Nimbus.)
    • Brush and floss the rest of your teeth at least twice daily.
    • Soak in an appliance cleaner made specifically for your appliance.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.  You may also use dish soap, or products designed for dentures.
    • If you use a denture adhesive be sure to remove any remaining adhesive daily with warm water and a soft toothbrush.  Use the adhesive according to manufacturer’s directions.   A little goes a long way.    Rinse with water before applying.  Apply adhesive, and then press firmly in place, and bite down. If you need to apply it more than one time a day, you may have an ill fitting denture.  Return to your dentist.
    • DO NOT use denture cleanser inside your mouth.
Trioblanc Ergonomic Denture Brush
This is the best denture brush I’ve seen
  • After soaking, you must still brush the denture.  Use a soft toothbrush or a denture brush.   Remove the soap, food debris and plaque.
  • Soak dentures overnight.  Most types of dentures need to remain moist to keep their shape.  Place the appliance in water or a mild denture soaking solution overnight.  If your appliance has metal parts, be sure to ask your dental office what  solutions you  can safely use.
  • Just like with any dental appliance, if it  is not in your mouth, it should be in your case. Dogs love to chew on anything of this nature.  At Great-Smile Dental, we have had several cases of dogs taking the dental appliance off the nightstand and hiding under the bed with their exciting find.  This becomes one very expensive doggy chew toy, so remember, in your mouth or in your case.  NO place else!
  • Always rinse the denture before placing it back in your mouth.
  • Do not adjust your appliance yourself.  If it does not fit- return to your dental office immediately.  Loose dentures can cause irritation, sores and infection.
  • See your dentist even if your have no natural teeth.  It is vitally important to examine your mouth at least yearly for oral cancer and other mouth sores, as well as check the fit of your denture.  With age, the bones and gum ridge the denture sits on shrinks.  Ill fitting dentures can cause sores as well as causing your jaws to not align properly.  This can cause changes to your facial appearance. Worn denture teeth need to be replaced.  Poor quality dentures can cause you to chew your food improperly, or resort to soft foods.  Our bodies need a well balanced diet and good nutrition.  If you can not chew your food well, let your dentist know.  It may be time to reevaluate your denture.
  • Remove your denture every night!  Never sleep with your denture in your mouth.  If you do, you double the risk of contracting pneumonia.   This research study also showed that denture wearing at night increased tongue and plaque bioburden, as well as gum inflammation, and a positive culture of candida albicans.  (Not good stuff)
  • Sores under dentures can be very painful- this is called denture stomatitis.  One research study placed Spry Baby Gel in the denture five times a day, and also in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis).  Within two weeks both conditions healed.

Mouth Guards,  Bite Guards, Retainers and other Dental Appliances:

 Rule #2:  Clean and disinfect DAILY!!!!  Get that sports guard out of the gym bag, bring it home and clean after each use!
Yummy, tastes and smells just like you.
  • Many of the above instructions apply here as well.  Keep it in your case or in your mouth– that’s a biggie.  Doggie chew toy applies here as well.
  •  DO NOT wrap your appliance in a napkin and place it on your lunch tray.  Dumpster diving is not fun.  Ask me how I know…
  • Use a cleanser appropriate for your type of appliance. Denture cleaners are not- unless it says so on the manufacturer’s box.  More on what I recommend in a moment.
  • Clean your appliance after meals, brush with a separate soft toothbrush or denture brush.
  • It should go without saying, but don’t put your appliance in the microwave “to disinfect it”, ever.   I thought that was obvious, but we had not one, but two patients do this.  Back to rule number one- it should be either in your mouth or in the case.
  • Along with the microwave, don’t leave it in a hot car, on the dashboard, in the sun or in boiling water.  Plastic melts!
  •  The first days of wearing an appliance cause you to salivate and to speak funny.  This is totally normal.  Remember to swallow and to practice talking.  You’ll adjust much more quickly.
  • Your appliance should fit snugly but not irritate your gums or teeth.  See your dentist for any adjustments.  Don’t attempt that yourself.   If you are not wearing  your appliance, your teeth may shift.  Again, your dentist may need to adjust it to help with wearing it comfortably.
  • Bring your appliance with you to every dental appointment.  New crowns or fillings may need to be made to fit around your appliance.  Your dentist should examine your appliance for cracks and holes.  I am always  happy to clean and evaluate it at every recare appointment.
  • Bite guard or snore appliances may feel tight the first few times you wear them.  It takes some getting used to, especially if you are a light sleeper.   Put them in earlier in the evening and wear for an hour or so before bed.  This may help your acclimate faster.

Cleaning Your Appliances:

Don’t use denture cleanser on your retainers or other plastic appliances.   Read all manufacturer’s instructions on any commercial cleaner you purchase.
  • Homemade appliance cleaners: Mix one part bleach to 10 parts water.  Soak for five to 10 minutes.  Brush with a denture brush after soaking. 
  • Retainer Brite is the most popular retainer cleaner and is certified kosher.  It is only available online.  Best price is at
  • Appliances with metal framework need a “non-persulfate cleanser” to prevent corroding the metal soldered joints from corroding.  The best cleanser in this category is Dentasoak.   Dentasoak is safe for mouthguards, retainers and even dentures.  It kills bacteria, and other microbes associated with pneumonia, fungus, yeast or mold.    And it a deodorizer, too!

Things NOT TO DO with your appliances:

  • Do not use toothpaste. It’s too abrasive.
  • Don’t over-soak your appliances.  Follow instructions.
  • Do not use vinegar.  Your appliances are plastic and will soak up the vinegar. Yuck and yuck! It also may corrode the metal parts. Vinegar seems to be a popular recommendation on pintrest and other websites.  Try it at your own peril.
  • Remember no heat, no boiling, no microwave and of course, no dishwasher. ‘Nuf said…

Care for dental appliances is as important as caring for the rest of your mouth.  Save senior citizen lives as well as your athlete, and help keep them healthier.   Keep appliances clean, clean, clean!  That’s the bottom line.

If you have other questions, I’ve got lots of answers!

As an aside- I thought about how I reuse water bottles– no longer though!  Throw them out, get a wide-mouth sports bottle and put it in the dishwasher with the cap, regularly!  It, too, is teeming with the same bacteria and microbes as above and can act like food poisoning to make you ill.  Drinking a bottle of bacteria, yummmmm.   And remember to clean your dental appliances daily, just saying… again!
Til next time,
Keep Smiling,
Edit:  We at the office clean your appliances with an ultrasonic cleaner, and my daughter just mentioned to me that they sell ultrasonic cleaners at the jewelry store she works at!  They’re under $100 and will get you a dental-office clean at home.  Just make sure you use the appropriate cleaning solution! Let me know if you want any info about that!!

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24 Responses

  1. I didn't realize that dentures require so much care! It makes a lot of sense though, considering that you're using them to replace your actual teeth. I guess it's significantly better than the alternative of living without teeth as well. I love what you said about visiting a dentist even when you don't have any natural teeth. You never know what other problems could come up! Thanks so much for the post, Barbara!

  2. Good Morning Tyrone Bobby Joe,
    Thanks for stopping by and reading about denture care. It does take work to properly care for any appliances, you are correct! Glad you learned something! Hopefully you still have your own teeth and are also taking great care of them. Please share my blog with Dr. Bibeau!

  3. shirlsw12 says:

    I like your first rule about dentures. I think that too many people are careless with things that they really shouldn't be so relaxed about. It's incredibly important to be able to do whatever you can to ensure that you're taking care of things, especially things like this. If nothing else I hope people will understand and practice that idea to ensure they get all of the help they need with this.

  4. Raj Solanki says:

    Thank your very much for the information about dentures. I read lots of informative post from this blog.

  5. Chris White says:

    My uncle recently got some dentures and he has not been taking very good care of them. Definitely gong to have to show him this post on how to really take care of his dentures. It would probably be the best thing for me to do. Then he can really take care of his dentures and keep them in the condition that he needs them to be.

  6. My grandma is scheduled to get dentures in a couple weeks, and since I help her out with almost everything, I've been reading up on denture care. I'm so glad that I'll be able to help her out because there is no way that she'll remember to do all this on her own. As far as cleaning the soft tissue in her mouth goes, should she do that along with her twice a day brushing or at another time? I've also heard of people brushing the dentures before soaking them. Thoughts on that?

  7. My mom needs dentures quite badly and she is just worried about how to take care of them. Your guide seems to really go into great description on how to handle dentures and I think it will make my mom want to get some. What are the usual costs to get dentures for someone?

  8. Hey Raj!
    I just saw your comment. Thanks for your kind words! I really appreciate your taking the time to read my posts!

  9. Christopher,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope your mom is doing well. Her dental office should work closely with her and teach her how to care for them. Denture prices vary greatly so I couldn't even hazard a guess. My best thought is you get what you pay for- cheap dentures are just that- buy the best you or she can afford.
    It's not an easy transition to dental appliances- there will be numerous adjustments until they fit just right. Tell her to hang in there. If you need more information, please let me know.

  10. Shirl,
    Glad you like my "rules". I happen to like lists, they keep me organized. While dentures do the job of real teeth, they do indeed require extra care.

  11. Just this week, my son accompanied to me to see the denturist. Together we were there because of me wanting to get new dentures. I was having trouble with a dental implant that's been giving me trouble. So it seemed like the best option was to take it out and get a new set of dentures.

  12. Andre,
    I'm sorry to hear your implant's failing. Dentures are the very best next option and I wish you well on this journey. Be sure to keep your appliances clean with all my tips above. Still visit your dentist to prevent further problems. I wish you the best,

  13. I have worked with the geriatric population for a while now, and am printing this article to hang in our work space. It is sort of shocking the varying degrees to which employees care for dentures. I plan to use this article as an outline for topics to discuss with my employees at our next staff meeting and hopefully bring some cohesiveness to how our client's oral hygiene is cared for!

  14. Sylvester,
    Thank you for searching out information on denture care, your seniors will greatly benefit from your knowledge. If you get a chance, please read my post
    titled: Oral Care for Dependent Seniors. Our elderly are unfortunately dying from lack of proper oral hygiene. The gum disease bacteria go into their lungs every time they breathe – aspiration pneumonia is the second leading cause of death in nursing homes. And then there's the further connection between gum disease and dementia. I'll be writing a future blog on that soon! If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know!

  15. Thank you for your suggestions, i think its fully working for protecting our teeth from being effected, thank you so much.

  16. Paul Shear says:

    Excellent post. I want to thank you for this informative read on the topic Denture Cleaning; I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.

  17. Enger sevet says:

    This a great blog post and really gives a very informative information. It is very useful information especially for me that had never have a denture and to use this as my future reference. Also, I will share this with my family and friends.

  18. Paul,
    You made my day!! Glad it was helpful. Hope you also read my post titled "Oral Care for Dependent Seniors" if you are interested in learning more.

  19. Enger,
    Thank you for your kind words. That's why I write a blog- there's just not enough dental hygiene information out there on things like this. Please let me know how you do with your denture.
    Best wishes,

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