Many people, both young and old, wear either partial or full dentures to counteract the negative effects of tooth loss. Dentures can help restore a person’s self-confidence and give back the ability to enjoy favorite foods or speak in public with no fear of judgment. Many denture wearers may feel so comfortable with their dentures that they don’t see a problem sleeping with them at night; however, there are many alarming side effects to wearing dentures at night or while sleeping.
Complications of Constantly Wearing Dentures
It’s essential to remove your dentures while sleeping, or for another 7-8 hour stretch during the day, to give your tissues and gums a break. If you sleep with dentures, the moist environment of your mouth can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow between the bottom of the dentures and your gum-line. This bacteria can then easily be breathed into your lungs and cause systemic infections. A study in the Journal of Dental Research showed that within denture wearers in a nursing home, the ones who slept with dentures were more than twice as likely to experience complications, and even death, related to pneumonia.
Other common complications that can be caused by not removing dentures at night include:
- Denture-related stomatitis, which is an inflammation in the top of the mouth caused by a yeast infection. This can be accompanied by cracking and dryness in the corners of the mouth.
- Bone loss and long-term changes in appearance in the face, caused by constant pressure on the gums from the dentures. Taking dentures out at night gives your gums a break from the pressure and lessens the risk of bone loss.
- Foul smells or bad breath
- Inflammation or sores in the mouth
Proper Denture Care
Your dentures are an investment that you want to last. Here are some tips to make sure they stay in top condition:
- Remove and clean your dentures after meals; if you don’t have time to clean them each time, make sure to at least rinse them with water. This will help wash off any bacteria.
- At least once a day, gently brush your dentures with a soft toothbrush or denture brush. Use hand soap, dish liquid, or a denture cleanser. Regular toothpaste is usually a bit too abrasive for dentures.
- When your dentures are not in your mouth, clean your gums and tongue once a day. You can use a damp, soft washcloth to wipe and massage them.
- While the dentures are out of your mouth, store them in water or a solution designed for dentures. Dentures are made to be kept moist, so leaving them out in the air could lead to breakdowns in the structure of the dentures.
Remember that even if you have dentures, you still need to visit your dentist at least every six months to make sure that your dental health is in order. If you’re experiencing pain, discomfort, or any other issues with your dentures, come in for a visit as soon as possible to make sure there is no evidence of gum disease or other issues. With proper care and maintenance, your dentures will last and be a positive part of your overall dental health.