The cleaning of overdentures (false teeth)

Tooth loss can be attributed to a number of reasons such as periodontal disease, accident, neglected oral hygiene, and delay in seeing a dentist with carious teeth. It must be stressed that cleaning an overdenture is as important as cleaning our natural teeth. Omission to do so will result in the build-up of tartar, bacteria and fungi, causing bad breath (halitosis).
If an immediate denture is worn during the healing period, denture care is all-important as the long-term success of implants cannot be jeopardised by poor oral hygiene, unkempt overdentures and infection.

Clean upper and lower full-arch dentures in the mouth following handover.

Lower denture on the master cast


Important notice for those wearing false teeth:

  • False teeth need to be cleaned several times a day following each meal and regularly disinfected.
  • You are advised to rinse your mouth and denture after each meal. Also clean your tongue with a toothbrush with rear to front sweeping movements since self-cleaning of the tongue is inhibited by plastic and the tongue’s papillae stick together impairing the function of the taste buds and reducing the sense of taste.
  • Cleaning with a brush calls for a special denture cleaning brush specifically designed for cleaning false teeth. Usually such a brush has two heads so that both sides of the denture can be thoroughly cleaned. If such a denture brush is beyond your means, go with a conventional soft or medium bristle brush that does not injure the denture. This kind of brush is also suitable for cleaning dentures, but certain parts of the denture are difficult to access with them.

One of the most popular denture brushes (photo credit:

  • To rule out the risk of breakage clean the denture over a basin filled with water.
  • When cleaning with a brush also use tooth paste. Choose a tooth paste which contains no micro-granules to prevent injury to the denture.
  • There is a vast variety of commercially available quality denture cleaning tablets which have both a bactericide and fungicide effect. Their use is recommended once or twice weekly. Make sure you read the package insert and closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions. To prevent damage never soak the denture longer than instructed.

Blend-a-dent denture cleaning tablets

  • Preferably avoid excessive use of mouth rinse and mouth spray. Although they contribute to a sense of freshness and cleanliness, if used excessively, the normal balance of flora in our oral cavity is toppled giving way to the proliferation of fungi. In severe cases they may absorb so deeply into the material of the denture that only a replacement of the denture will help.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking not only makes for the fungal infection of the oral cavity but also promotes the development of oral cancer.
  • Have your blood sugar levels checked on a regular basis. Diabetic patients are 5 times more susceptible to fungal infections, and compliance with regularly controlled and adjusted blood levels is therefore indispensable.
  • Preferably avoid food items rich in sugar and yeast as these may contribute to candidiasis, also known as yeast infection.
  • Clean the site of the teeth and the tongue daily with a soft brush. Thus you not only remove plaque and food remains stuck beneath the denture but you also invigorate blood circulation which slows down bone decay underneath the denture and enhance gustatory sensation.
  • Thoroughly massage the jaw ridges with your thumb for 5 minutes several times a day to increase blood supply to gums nourishing the alveolar bones and thus decreasing the risk of bone decay.

Lower and upper immediate dentures after tooth extractions in the mouth.

  • Rather than whitening it, sodium bicarbonate and whitening tooth paste will harm the denture.
  • Plaque and tartar build up on the dentures the same way as they do on natural teeth.
  • Today’s state-of-the-art overdentures should not be stored in water overnight. These materials do not shrink in a dry medium. What is more, a wet medium decidedly stimulates the proliferation of fungi.
  • The denture need not be removed overnight. If comfortable, it may remain in your mouth once cleaned while you sleep.
  • In case of cracks do not wear the denture at night until the wound heals. See the dentist for the correction of the denture. If you are very tired or stressed make sure you remove the denture overnight since tooth grinding and tooth clenching are harmful in that they cause poor blood supply to the jawbones and accelerate bone atrophy
  • With regular yearly dental check-ups we stand a good chance of timely detecting tooth wear, the wiggling of the denture and infection caused by cracking which are easier to “nip in the bud”.
  • Having the occlusal height of the denture checked by a dentist is important, as is balanced occlusion on both sides. If the denture wiggles or is far too loose and we have a feeling that it no longer “sits in place” we are advised to have it relined.

Bottom and side view of an immediate denture with a conspicuous build-up of tartar, having deposited as a result of lack of regular cleaning

Keywords: false teeth, overdenture, tartar, cleaning, denture brush, immediate denture, halitosis, bad breath, tooth grinding, tooth clenching, bone atrophy, bone decay, candidiasis