Replacing missing teeth with dentures is a common and convenient solution. However, without proper denture aftercare practices, there is a risk of developing complications.
Today’s article focuses on the right way to care for your dentures, maintain your oral health, and save on retreatment costs.
Just like your natural teeth, your dentures require good hygiene to prevent plaque accumulation.
Moreover, dentures may lead to oral and general health problems if they are not cared for well.
Healing After Extraction
The recovery time and healing after extraction depend on the type of teeth removed and the difficulty of the procedure.
The healing process is the same for everyone, however, the healing time is different for each individual.
The tooth is extracted from the jaw bone which leaves a void, thus it takes time to fill.
It may take three to eight months for the jaw bone to heal completely and harden. 
You should carefully follow your dentist’s post-operative instructions for better healing.
On the first day after the extraction, bleeding stops, and blood clot formation takes place.
After this, you may experience some swelling and some oozing from the extraction site.
Then, the wound starts healing within one or two weeks, and the gums eventually close over the empty tooth socket.
How To Care for Your Dentures?
Most people say that they clean their dentures once a day, but dentists indicate that the clinical examination says otherwise.
They are usually found in poor hygiene due to the accumulation of plaque and dirt.
Therefore, proper cleansing of the dentures is crucial. Just brushing and rinsing the dentures is not enough.
Steps For Proper Denture Care
Follow these steps for good denture care;
Rinse Your Dentures After Every Meal
Wash your dentures after eating to remove any food debris and loose particles.
Always Clean Your Mouth After Removing the Denture
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to clean your gums, cheek, and tongue. Remove any remaining denture adhesives from your mouth.
Brush Your Dentures Once Daily
Use a non-abrasive denture cleaner and a soft-bristle brush/denture special brush to clean your denture.
Make sure you are cleaning the grooves and all the remaining debris.
Rinse off the denture cleanser to avoid accidental consumption.
Soak Your Dentures Overnight
To maintain their shape, dentures should be kept wet. Keep them in lukewarm water or denture-soaking solution.
Don’t let your dentures dry, as they will warp. In the morning, wash your dentures well before wearing them.
Schedule Regular Dental Visits
Your dentist will check for proper fitting of the denture and see if there is any discomfort.
Get Your Dentures Cleaned Professionally
Your dentist will clean them using ultrasonic cleaners to remove plaque and calculus accumulated over time.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dentures?
Generally, it is recommended to clean your dentures at least once daily.
However, brushing (using a special denture brush) them twice a day is good practice.
To make it a habit, brush your dentures before going to bed and after waking up.
However, make sure not to use any abrasive toothpaste on your dentures. As it may cause micro-abrasions that increase debris accumulation.
Using denture cleaners in place of abrasive toothpaste helps prolong the life of the denture.
You should also use non-abrasive toothpaste to clean your gums and tongue to keep them clean & healthy.
Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash after removing the dentures is also a good practice. Traditional mouthwash is not advised for use with dentures.
There are specially formulated mouthwashes available for dentures; you can try using them.
What You Should Avoid
While using dentures, maintaining their cleanliness and shape is essential. Avoid making these mistakes for better denture care.
- Do not place your dentures in hot water because it leads to the warping of dentures.
- Don’t use any abrasive or strong toothpaste to clean your dentures, as abrasives can damage them.
- Avoid using whitening toothpaste because it contains chemicals that may change the color of your dentures.
- Do not soak your dentures in sodium hypochlorite bleach  or in any product that contains it. These chemicals can weaken your denture.
- Use denture cleansers to clean your dentures only outside the mouth.
- Ensure not to scratch the surface of your denture that rests on the jaw bone (denture base).
The Dos and Don’ts of Your Denture Care
Now that you have detailed information about the how & why, here is a quick recap of the essential do’s and don’ts of denture care:
|Brush and rinse your dentures twice a day.
|Do not use any abrasive or sharp products.
|Clean your mouth every day after removing the dentures.
|Avoid using any denture cleanser in your mouth.
|Keep your dentures immersed in tepid water at night.
|Don’t let your dentures dry out.
|Chew from both sides.
|Do not take large bites of hard food.
|Visit your dentist regularly for evaluation.
|Don’t ignore ill-fitting dentures, pain, or ulcers.
Denture Care and Maintenance
Proper care for your denture can help it last longer. So, daily cleaning to remove the bacterial plaque present in your oral cavity is of utmost importance.
It minimizes the risk of ulcers contributing to good oral health and general health.
Your dentist might advise the usage of denture adhesives for better retention and stability of the denture. 
It creates a seal between your soft tissues and denture, thus helping in preventing food accumulation. Better adhesion improves function and quality of life.
However, extended use of this adhesive is not advised without a periodic assessment from your dentist.
Improper use of zinc-containing denture adhesives is believed to cause adverse effects. 
Hence, you should always rinse off denture adhesive from the dentures and oral cavity daily.
While using dentures, get them checked annually. Your prosthodontist or dental professional will check for its optimum fit and function.
Also, get evaluated for the presence of any oral lesions or bone loss.
Video courtesy: Midtown Dentistry
When to Contact Your Dentist
Periodic dental checkups are essential for the maintenance of good oral health. Similarly, with dentures, you should continue your regular dental visits.
Contact your dentist immediately if you experience the following issues with your dentures: 
- Improper fitting
- Uncomfortable to wear
- Worn or broken
- Inability to speak properly
You should also consult a dentist if you experience mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, or bad breath.
If you experience any irritation due to the dentures, it should be corrected immediately.
Denture stomatitis is the most common complication faced by many denture wearers.
In simple terms, it refers to several problems that arise in long-term denture wearers. Some symptoms are: 
- Painful ulcers
- Redness and swelling of gums
If you have diabetes, there is a greater risk of developing denture stomatitis.
Hence, the daily removal of plaque present in your oral cavity and on your dentures is of great importance
The most common factors causing dental stomatitis are: 
- trauma to the oral tissue
- fungal infection
- accumulation of plaque
- continuous wearing of removable dentures
- poor oral hygiene
The occurrence of denture stomatitis is highly linked to wearing dentures for a longer duration.
You should practice the night-time removal of dentures to allow healing of your oral tissues.
It also helps to avoid the risk of denture stomatitis. If you suspect having any of these symptoms, consult your dentist and get treated.
Bone loss is another major drawback of wearing dentures. Continuous denture wearing tends to reduce the height and width of your jaw bone.
It affects the support and fit of complete dentures. If you have complete dentures, bone loss reduces the support surface of your dentures.
A clinical study  demonstrated that leaving dentures out at night instead of continuous wearing resulted in less bone loss.
The bone loss leads to reduced stability, pain, and ulcers. Making regular visits to your dentist for evaluation can help you in the early identification of bone loss.
Traumatic ulcers are painful lesions that appear in the initial days of your denture insertion.
These ulcers occur when there is an extended margin of the denture, bite imbalance, or the base is not polished correctly.
Improper fit of dentures can cause soft tissue irritation. Also, their excessive movement causes ulceration of the oral tissue.
Traumatic ulcers heal when the cause is removed. Regular follow-up with your dentist can prevent the occurrence of such lesions. 
Using mouthwash and spray can provide immediate relief.
Enlargement of gum tissue that is present near dentures is referred to as denture hyperplasia. There are two types of hyperplasia:
Denture-Related Fibrous Hyperplasia
This is seen due to: 
- ill-fitting dentures
- unstable dentures
- continuous pressure by denture border on gums
It disappears entirely on the removal of the cause.
Inflammatory Papillary Hyperplasia
This occurs due to: 
- bone loss
- poor hygiene
- continuous denture wearing
- age-related systemic conditions
Removal of dentures at night and maintenance of oral hygiene can help to treat this condition.
Sometimes surgical removal of the excess tissue is advised.
Dentures are delicate, and mishandling can result in breaking your denture. The most common reason for its fracture is dropping it in the sink while washing.
Handle them properly while washing or keep a towel below to prevent accidental breakage.
Upper Denture Fracture
If you continue to use ill-fitting dentures, over time, they will weaken and break. Consult your dentist if you face any fitting or functional issues.
Dentures build your self-confidence and improve your quality of life. Taking proper care of your dentures improves longevity, and oral hygiene thus avoiding complications.
Following these simple steps can make your dentures last a long time!
Frequently Asked Questions
In a simple extraction, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for the soft tissue to heal. The timeline for healing depends on various factors.
The recovery process takes longer for a surgical extraction. On average, it may take 3 to 6 months for complete healing of your jaw bone.
The healing of your gums also depends on your medical condition. It may take longer to heal in people with diabetes and medically compromised patients.
After insertion of your new dentures, you may develop some soreness. Do not try to make any adjustments yourself; instead, get evaluated by your dentist.
Several adjustments should be expected for optimal fit and function.
Over time, your oral tissue gets adapted to your dentures. In case, with time, if you develop new sores, your dentures will need readjustment.
After getting dentures, you should continue to clean your mouth like before. Gently brush your gums, the roof of the mouth, and tongue to remove dirt.
In the beginning, your diet should consist of soft foods like mashed potatoes, broth, pudding, yogurt, ice cream, and soups.
Then, move to harder foods. You should practice eating small bites and chew slowly. Constantly chew from both sides to avoid dislocation of the denture.
It may take a few weeks for you to learn how to chew with dentures.
It will take 3 to 4 weeks for your mouth to adjust to new dentures, after which you can start eating solid food.
Cut your solid foods into smaller bites to chew properly. You can gradually shift from soft food to solid food.
Getting immediate dentures can be a good idea in some cases. An immediate denture is used as a temporary replacement after extraction till the permanent denture fabrication.
It helps the gums to heal and also fills the gap of lost teeth. However, they are pre-made, and they may not fit perfectly in your mouth.
When you are not wearing your dentures, it is essential to keep them in water. They are made of acrylic, which on drying, can lose its shape and warp.
Your dentures can get brittle on drying and will not fit well in the mouth.
Usually, it takes 30 days to acclimate to wearing them. Learning to eat and speak with dentures can be challenging, but a necessary process for success.
You can start eating soft foods and gradually shift to small bites of hard food. Also, practice speaking in front of the mirror to learn how to speak with dentures.
The tongue and other muscles of the mouth need to adapt to the new prosthesis.
Initially, you may need frequent visits to your dentist for adjustment of dentures.
With time your dentures become more tolerable, and eventually, they will feel natural.