Partials and dentures are made generally from acrylic bases with resin teeth. They’re highly polished and they’re precision devices, for the most part. Oftentimes, patients think that normal dentrofices like toothpaste and toothbrush should be used to clean their dentures. They’re not teeth and certainly not natural gums or gingiva. So, there are different ways to care for and clean these. Believe it or not, the best way, the least expensive way, is a soft bristle denture brush. Those can be purchased from any corner store or drugstore, and some dish detergent, just a normal soap dish soap. That’s really the best way to keep these clean. It’s gentle on the denture itself. It is easy to come by. You want to get the unscented version of all of these things. If you’d like to rinse it with a little bit of mouthwash afterward to keep it a little more fresh, some mint mouthwash would be fine too- but, no toothpaste, nothing abrasive. Certainly, no dishwashers. I’ve seen and heard of patients trying to clean them in all kinds of devices; double boilers, microwaves, and all the tools in the kitchen really. That will ruin the denture themselves because partials sometimes have metal in them as well. It can be dangerous to put metal in microwaves and things like that, but no boiling them. You don’t want to boil these, you don’t want to clean them in any other way at home. They’re polished and finished in such a way by the dentist and the dental lab that that surface protection is important to maintain on them.
As far as over time, they can get a little bit worn or even looking like they’re stained. That’s when we find that patients want to do these alternative solutions. If it can’t be cleaned by soap and water with a denture brush, and the stains don’t go away from these little denture tablets that are used sometimes. If it can’t be cleaned, maybe it’s time for a new denture. One of the things that we use to determine if it’s time for a new denture, besides fit and function is we’re using a concept the insurance companies have come up with. If the insurance companies are ready to pay for a new denture, then it’s probably time. Usually that’s between seven to ten years, depending on your insurance company. Right around eight, even nine years, that’s when a denture should be really replaced.
In the meantime, if the fit isn’t right, it can be refit. But with respect to cleaning, once you can’t clean it and you don’t like the look and you see that the teeth are stained or even the gums on the denture, the acrylic, the pink acrylic has turned maybe orange, it’s time to consider a replacement because, keeping and maintaining the denture that you have, that stain is now inside. With stain goes bacteria and fungus. So, what you don’t see is that that stain is not just from the coffee or the wine. It also could be a bacteria or a fungus, which normally it’s some type of fungal infestation. You can’t clean that. That’s inside of the acrylic. So, orange or stained looking dentures, when the pink goes to orange, that’s when it’s time to be replaced.