Dentures Could Transmit Harmful Microbes
Written by Anthony Cirillo
May 9, 2011
The full article can be accessed here
Those who wear dentures could be putting more than artificial teeth in their mouth every day.
Denture-wearers know that you must soak the mouthpiece in either water or a mild solution for at least 8 hours every day (typically at night) in order to prevent them from becoming brittle and not fitting properly. However, some people may think that merely soaking it is an effective cleaning method. That could be a dangerous assumption. A recent study conducted on orthodontic retainers showed that those mouthpieces could contain several harmful microbes not normally found in the mouth. A similar situation could easily occur with dentures.
Dentures and Retainers Comparison
Researchers at the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London recently found that if retainers are not cleaned thoroughly and regularly, excessive germ buildup could easily occur. Those microbes could transfer to the wearer’s mouth as soon as they placed the mouthpiece. For their study, they compared oral samples from those who wear retainers and from those who do not wear a dental mouthpiece.
Everyone’s mouth contains hundreds of different bacteria, many of which are beneficial, but for this study scientists were looking for two in particular which are not normally found in a healthy mouth:
- Staphylococcus (Staph infection)
- Candida (a type of yeast/fungus)
More than 50% of retainer wearers had these microbes on their tongues and inner cheeks as well as on their retainers. This doesn’t post a dire threat for healthy individuals, but it could cause more serious harm for those with weakened immune systems, like many seniors. These bacteria typically live in small communities covered with a thin layer of slime, called biofilm, and once established, they can be very difficult to remove. Those who wear dentures could face the same risk, since dentures are placed in and out of the mouth on a regular basis.
Preventing Bacteria in Dentures
Transmission of microbes can occur when a denture is frequently moved between its storage place and the mouth. Those storage containers are typically plastic and rarely washed. Proper hygiene is currently the most effective way to prevent transmission of these microbes, according to researchers. Patients and caregivers should also be made aware of the consequences of not adequately cleaning their dentures, as many seniors fail to brush or disinfect their dentures before or after each use. Here are some tips for keeping these microbes at bay:
- Wash your hands before and after handling your dentures.
- Denture-wearers who still have some of their permanent teeth should brush their dentures before and after each use with a separate toothbrush from what they use to brush their permanent teeth.
- Wash the denture case in the top rack of your dishwasher every few weeks (if it’s a basic plastic case).
- Those who normally soak their dentures in water nightly should still soak it in diluted mouthwash or a special dental device cleaner at least weekly.
Dentures remain in the mouth all day every day, so proper care is necessary to maintain a healthy-looking smile. If dangerous microbes are allowed into the mouth, it could rot any remaining permanent teeth or cause infections in the gum or supporting bone structure. With some careful attention to hygiene, seniors can help prevent these harmful microbes from entering their mouths.