Can you sleep with dentures?

Can you sleep with dentures?
Is it OK to sleep in dentures?

There are conflicting opinions when one poses the ‘wearing dentures at night’ dilemma. This is partially because there are numerous aspects to consider. But the main problem is a plethora of unclear and confusing advice.

Why should you take your dentures out at night - the considerations?

There are aspects of hygiene, safety, aesthetics, infection prevention, and comfort to consider. In addition, the type of denture you wear will have a bearing on if you should leave dentures in or whether you should take them out at night. But advice on exactly how to address this issue is often contradictory and inconsistent. Researchers have taken measures to address this problem.

Denture wearers are increasing worldwide

As the global population ages, the number of people wearing dentures is increasing. Some predictions project there will be an estimated two billion people over 60 years of age by 2050. Many of these will be denture wearers. Since the proper care of dentures is crucial to the overall health of our ageing populations, a global taskforce was assembled to try to dispel some of the confusion existing around denture care.

Wearing dentures 24/7 may not be a good idea

The taskforce outlines how poor denture care can impact on the health of denture wearers in areas ranging from the aesthetic, like staining, bad breath and changes in taste, to more serious concerns like gum disease, inflammation, and life-threatening conditions like pneumonia, especially in the frail elderly.

The recommended steps for denture care

The taskforce sets out four clear and simple steps for daily care of your dentures:

  • Firstly, daily brushing with a soft brush and a non-abrasive denture cleaner. Do not use regular toothpaste as this will damage the denture surface.
  • Secondly, they advise a daily soaking in denture cleanser to disinfect your denture and remove any harmful bacteria. Use of denture cleaners by wearers with cognitive issues can be hazardous, however. In these cases, cleaning the dentures with a soft brush and ordinary soap under running water is sufficient and avoids any risk of mistaking the denture cleaning solutions for drinking water.
  • Thirdly, remove your dentures overnight to rest your mouth and gums and prevent infection.
  • Lastly, have regular denture checks to monitor your oral health and monitor the ongoing integrity of your denture.

Can you sleep with your dentures in your mouth? – the case against

Aspects to consider before leaving your dentures in while sleeping include: hygiene, safety, aesthetics, infection prevention and comfort.

Oral Hygiene

Washing, then soaking dentures overnight disinfects and cleans them, preventing the potential for bad breath and bad tastes in your mouth. Leaving your dentures out while you sleep gives your mouth and gum tissues time to recover from the day’s biting and chewing.

Are dentures safe?

Like most things that improve our lives, including dentures, if used in the manner for which they have been designed, then they are safe. If proper maintenance is neglected or instructions on usage ignored, then you can expect negative consequences. Correct hygiene practices and adherence to expert recommendations on denture wearing, have your safety and comfort foremost in mind.

Can you wear partial dentures all the time?

Leaving dentures in while you sleep, especially partial dentures which may more easily dislodge, can pose a choking hazard for those suffering sleep apnoea or who may be subject to seizures. For those wondering, it is easier for a partial denture to block your airway or be swallowed than is the case for a full denture.

Infection control

According to an article in the Journal for Dental Research there is empirical evidence to suggest you should avoid wearing dentures while sleeping. This is because doing so, may promote oral inflammation and increase the microbial burden in your mouth. Further, giving your mouth time to recover from tender spots or rubbing lessens the chance of infection.

Cleaning dentures before soaking them overnight helps to reduce the risk of Candida albicans colonisation, whereas storing the dentures in water alone may encourage pathogen growth. Leaving the dentures out overnight in dry storage on a towel, or in a container also helps prevent proliferation of this harmful fungal pathogen [ref].

What can I soak my dentures in overnight?

The answer to this question is any reputable brand of denture cleaner will suffice. Alternatively, washing and gently brushing with plain soap and water then leaving to dry on a towel is also a good denture hygiene regime. This is especially recommended for those wearers who, during the night, may confuse a glass of denture cleaner for drinking water.

Comfort

As stated above, giving your mouth a rest from your dentures overnight can avoid the discomfort of potential pressure points, especially if you have been giving your mouth a workout with some seriously tough chewing on that steak you hankered for. But what if you have a new partner and shudder to think of them seeing you without your teeth? There is no hard and fast rule saying you can’t sleep with your dentures in as long as you don’t have sleep apnoea or other issues which may cause you to suddenly inhale and choke on your denture. With careful hygiene practices, it is okay to sleep with your dentures with occasional periods of respite.

Exceptions to the rules – immediate dentures

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. In some cases, dentures are best left in overnight. This applies to immediate dentures or temporary dentures which are inserted immediately after tooth extraction and are left in the mouth for the first 24-48 hours to help control swelling and protect the extraction site. Removing these dentures for brief periods to rinse in warm water on your oral practitioner’s advice is permissible to freshen the mouth. After two to three days of constant wear when the swelling has receded, the dentures are removed and soaked overnight.

Dental implants – snap on or over-dentures

Unlike a regular denture, your over-denture rests on the implants in your jaw rather than your gums. This type of denture is far more secure in the mouth, so risk of it dislodging and choking you during sleep is far less. It is therefore possible, though not recommended, to leave in while sleeping, but maintaining scrupulous oral hygiene is essential for all the reasons stated above.

In summary

The expert advice on leaving your dentures in overnight is in. It is not recommended. Reasons cited include hygiene, safety, infection control and comfort, both physical and emotional. But there are some exceptions, notably immediate dentures which must be left in for a couple of days, in addition to occasional situations where you think being ‘gummy’ may somehow be too embarrassing. The new global taskforce advice cuts through the formerly confusing and sometimes contradictory information with a simple four step denture care routine. Wishing you sweet dreams, good health, and a fresh mouth in the morning!


Disclaimer – Always consult your oral health professional for expert advice about your unique personal situation. The information given here is of a general nature and for the purpose of education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your oral health specialist


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