Although the number of adults in the UK who retain their own teeth until old age is constantly increasing, there are still a considerable number of people who wear dentures to replace one, some or all of their natural teeth. Dentures can restore your confidence, help you with speaking and chewing food and help you smile after losing one more of your teeth. Just like natural teeth, denture teeth and dentures require a daily cleaning regime to prevent problems from occurring.
Dentures, from the minute they are placed in your mouth, start harbouring bacteria (plaque). Also, whilst you are enjoying a snack or your meal, small particles of the food you consume can be trapped beneath the fitting surface of your denture. All this debris, if not removed regularly, can cause bad breath, gum problems and redness or soreness in your mouth where the denture is sitting. This can cause mouth infections such as ‘denture stomatitis’.
Denture stomatitis is caused by a fungus called ‘thrush’ or ‘candida’. Thrush can appear in other parts of the body, but when it affects the mouth of a denture wearer, it is called denture stomatitis. Poor denture hygiene and not removing the denture at night are the commonest causes for this condition. However, diabetics, people who take steroids and smokers are at higher risk of developing thrush.
Most of the time, simple steps such as cleaning the denture thoroughly, rinsing the mouth with antibacterial mouthwash and keeping the denture out at night will fight the infection, and your mouth and gums will return to a healthy state. It is important to treat the thrush as soon as possible but if the infection persists, your dentist may have to prescribe an antifungal gel for a few days to help your mouth fight the infection.
Besides local infections, research has shown that bacteria that live on dentures can also cause general health problem such as pneumonia – especially amongst the elderly and hospitalised patients. A recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research claimed that elderly people who tend to wear their dentures during their sleep, double their risk of developing pneumonia.
It is so important therefore to spend just a few minutes every day caring for your denture.
The Oral Health Foundation recently published guidelines for effective denture care. These can be summarised in the following four steps:
At Dee Shapland Dental, your dentist and hygienist routinely check your mouth for signs of infection. If you are experiencing any soreness in your mouth or you have any questions about your dentures, please speak to our dentists or hygienist and they will be more than happy to advise you.
This blog has been written by Anastasios Plessas, Associate Dentist
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