Denture care for seniors: what you need to know

For many elderly people in the care environment wearing dentures is a part of life, so for those supporting them, it is essential to understand the best methods of denture cleaning and care.

A set of dentures doesn’t last forever. With proper care, they may last for a good five to seven years. Caring for an individual’s dentures should not be hard work. In fact, it’s not that much different from maintaining dental hygiene for natural teeth and adhering to regular dental check-ups.

Professional attention
The denture wearer will need to see a dental hygienist every 6 to 12 months and a dental prosthetist every year. A dental hygienist will check for any plaque on the gums and this is exceedingly important for denture wearers. Plaque can be dangerously pushed down underneath the gum line, making cleaning more difficult.  If the plaque is allowed to settle deep down underneath the gum line, cavities can occur on root surfaces, which can be very unpleasant.  Regular check-ups with the dental hygienist will help prevent root cavities from occurring.

Wearing dentures puts added pressure on your gums and jaw structure. In addition, as we age, our bones and faces change. If the dentures are not checked and adjusted regularly, the gums may become irritated, or there may be pain, swelling or even bone and tissue loss. This is the job of a dental prosthetist and a regular inspection will prevent the development of any nasty problems.

If all goes well, the denture wearer should be able to hold onto their dentures for a number of years. Then, a new pair of dentures will be required to better fit the patient’s mouth and also to improve aesthetics. Dentures can get stained and slightly discoloured over time, so a new pair will not only feel better, but will look nicer as well.

Home care
We all have visions of false teeth in a glass of water by an older person’s bed. However, you may be surprised to know that this is not actually the best way to care for dentures. In the past, soaking dentures in water with a little fizzy tablet overnight was considered just the ticket. However, new research indicates that the best way to look after dentures is to clean and brush them daily, rinse them and leave them to dry on a small hand towel.

Dental professionals recommend that dentures are kept out of the mouth regularly as the denture wearer needs several hours’ rest for the jaw and gums. Understandably, night time is ideal for this.

Throughout the day, it is essential to brush the existing natural teeth after every meal and rinse the mouth throughout the day with lots of water. Rinsing with water helps remove any bacteria from the mouth. As for any person, flossing is important too to clean between remaining teeth and keep the gums healthy.

Like natural teeth, dentures can become stained, or slightly discoloured over time.  This is especially true if the denture wearer is a smoker, or drinks a lot of tea, coffee or red wine.  In most cases it should be possible to remove this staining with regular cleaning. However, more stubborn stains may take a little more effort, with several denture cleaning products available.  Just be sure to read and comply with the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damaging the dentures.

Pain or discomfortdenture care for seniors at sage aged care
If the denture wearer starts to feel any pain or discomfort in their mouth, it’s important that they seek professional help by either visiting a dental hygienist or a dental prosthetist as soon as possible.

With good care, and regular check-ups there should be bright smiles all round for denture wearers!


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Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of training in Australia, she is currently writing her PhD thesis on defining quality training in the Australian vocational education sector.
Vicki Tuchtan

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