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

Barbara Tritz
· March 22, 2015 ·

7 minutes

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.
    • Denture soak- Bleach water: 1 teaspoon of bleach to 8 oz. of water and use the Trioblanc brush!
Trioblanc Ergonomic Denture Brush
This is the best denture brush I’ve seen
  • After soaking, you must still brush the denture.  Use 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.  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!!

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

Share your thoughts below!


  1. Olivia Alexander

    I know this is quality based blogs along with other stuff.

  2. MikeSearch

    Best wishes to you, I love you blog post.

  3. Stewart Morgan

    I keep on reading your blog post.. This was still amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing this unique informative post with us.. I really enjoyed by reading your blog post.

  4. Barbara Tritz

    Thank you Stewart! I appreciate your comment!



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