Just think of it. You’ve met the love of your life and you’re contemplating spending a night together. Only one problem: what to do about your dentures? You may be under the impression that you must remove your dentures to clean and then air dry them. Or perhaps you’ve been told you need to soak your dentures overnight to remove stains. Or maybe you’re still getting used to new dentures. In which case, your oral health professional may suggest you remove them at night to give your mouth a rest and a chance to heal any sore spots. All these scenarios are valid of course. However, whatever the situation, you just can’t imagine how can going toothless could possibly fit with a romantic interlude?
Well, you can relax. Despite the seemingly conflicting advice, you can sleep with your dentures. We concur with Queensland Health (2008) who suggest wearing dentures at night is a personal choice. If you feel more comfortable sleeping with your dentures in, then do so. Be careful about wearing partial dentures while you sleep, however. If the device becomes dislodged, you could be in danger of choking.
We advise if you are fitting dentures into your mouth immediately after extracting teeth (immediate dentures), to keep them in place night and day for at least the first few days. This allows your mouth to mould around them and protect the healing gums.
In every aforementioned scenario, the need for meticulous oral hygiene is imperative. Hygiene is an important factor whether your teeth are natural or false. Failure to clean your dentures properly could result in a build-up of harmful bacteria and fungi on the undersides which can cause offensive odours, irritation and disease, jeopardising your overall health.
What issues can sleeping with my dentures cause?
A process known as re-absorption is a concern among some dental professionals, although it remains a contentious issue. Re-absorption can occur when the pressure of dentures on the gums and bony ridges beneath them cause accelerated loss of bone volume and density. According to some dental specialists, a possibility more likely if you wear your dentures 24 hours a day. With the loss of bone, structural support for the dentures diminishes. The dentures can become loose and may shift in your mouth, an uncomfortable feeling, not to mention the difficulty it causes for eating.
Apart from health impacts, discomfort and inconvenience, excessive loss of bone can adversely affect your facial structure giving the appearance of premature ageing. You can expect a minor degree of shrinkage in the mouth architecture after the removal of teeth.
There is another issue to consider if you sleep with your dentures in: namely the risk of aspirating them while asleep. Since you only secrete a fraction of the saliva produced during the day during sleep, the tension it normally creates to keep dentures in place may fail, causing them to slip. When the dentures slip, the sleeping person could panic and gasp for air, sucking the denture back to block the windpipe.
Can sleeping with my dentures help sleep apnoea?
In some people, wearing dentures at night may help prevent a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), a dangerous sleep-related breathing disorder. In this case, we advise removing your dentures to rest supporting tissues during waking hours.
What did Lisa say?
A chat with Lisa, a long time denture wearer, is enlightening. She tells me she always wears her dentures to bed. ‘I need to preserve my pride and a little romance in my relationship’, she says. ‘Somehow, I don’t think waking up next to my partner with a gummy smile would help in that department.’ She went on to say, ‘regular visits to my dental prosthetist ensure my dentures remain snug and well-fitting. And I’m very aware of the importance of hygiene. I make sure I clean them twice a day so there are no issues with my health – or my love life.’
A final word
In the face of all the conflicting advice, finding a middle ground on this subject is appropriate. Covering mouth tissues with foreign, non-biological materials 24 hours a day may not be ideal. Giving your mouth rest periods from dentures at times to suit you, is a sensible practice.
Always consult your prosthetist for expert advice about your unique personal situation. The information given here is general and not meant to replace that of your oral specialist.
Northern Rivers Denture Clinic is located in the heart of Tweed Heads, southern Gold Coast. Finally have the smile you deserve with handcrafted, quality dentures.