How many hours a day should you wear your dentures?

Woman putting false teeth into her mouth

The number of hours a day you should wear your dentures is a common question usually posed by those new to denture wearing. The answer to this question will be different for permanent dentures and immediate dentures. Of course, for veteran denture wearers who want to check in on the correct answer, you may have been prompted to do so because the denture is less comfortable than it used to be. So, rather than question the number of hours you’re wearing it, but rather view it as time to see your prosthetist for a check-up. An important and opposing side of the coin in this discussion is the times when you shouldn’t wear your dentures.

When should I not wear my dentures?

Dentures are best not worn overnight. Leaving them out at night allows your oral tissues, gums and jawbone some respite from the pressure and coverage of a denture. Your mouth is a haven for bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. Oral hygiene is essential to prevent harmful bacteria from flourishing and causing infection. Rinsing your mouth and thoroughly cleaning any remaining teeth as well as your denture, will help to avoid infections and bad breath. If you have sore spots, it’s best not to aggravate them by continuing to wear your denture until you can have them adjusted by your prosthetist. Don’t let a minor irritation become a raging infection. See your prosthetist at the first sign of tenderness.

Dentures should be removed for regular rinsing, brushing, and cleaning, ideally at least twice a day. Other instances where you might consider leaving your dentures out are if you are being anaesthetised for surgery, or you are plagued by a bout of vomiting, or you decide to go bungee jumping or partake of any other extreme sport where you may damage or lose them.

What happens if I leave my dentures out?

Leaving your dentures out overnight is recommended practice. Leaving them out for extended periods is not advised however, as remaining natural teeth can drift into vacant spaces normally occupied by the denture, resulting in one that ceases to fit. In this situation, having to replace your denture because it no longer fits can be a costly mistake. Without the support of your denture, the structural integrity of your face is compromised, collapsing inwards and giving a prematurely aged appearance. If you find you’re leaving your denture out on a regular basis perhaps it’s time to have a chat and check-up with your prosthetist to discover why.

When you fail to address denture discomfort issues

If your denture is causing discomfort, of course you want to remove it. If it only hurts when you eat or experience different foods, you may be tempted to take it out during eating and just replace it afterward. The denture doesn’t hurt otherwise, so you continue with this practise and possibly put off seeking help. Afterall, you reason, it’s only during meals that the denture is uncomfortable. What harm could it possibly do? In a study of the ‘Impact on Denture Usage Patterns of Dietary Quality and Food Avoidance in Older Adults’,i a correlation was found between tooth loss and edentulism and lower nutritional status. The frequent removal of poorly fitting dentures during eating, leaving the wearer toothless and therefore without adequate chewing capacity, leads to limited food choices, an avoidance of more foods and therefore a lower quality diet. Since for older adults in particular, a healthy balanced diet is essential to overall good health, having well-fitting dentures that are comfortable to eat with is crucial.

Does the type of denture I have dictate the hours it should be worn?

This is certainly the case if you have been fitted with an immediate denture which you will be advised to leave in place for at least 72 hours, removing it only to rinse and clean. Because an immediate denture is fitted immediately after tooth extraction, it helps to stem bleeding and protect the wound, thereby reducing the chance of developing dry sockets. Keeping the immediate denture in place during those crucial first days will also help mould the gums and oral tissues to ensure a snug fit.

A complete or full permanent denture should ideally be worn for all your waking hours but removed for cleaning after meals and at night before sleep. Leaving your denture out in a safe place overnight to dry after cleaning and soaking, will reduce any harmful bacterial build up and irritation of delicate oral tissues, allowing your gums and mouth some respite from the pressure and coverage of oral membranes, a consequence of normal denture wearing.

The same practice applies to partial dentures. Leaving them in overnight occasionally for social reasons is acceptable provided you don’t have other health issues like sleep apnoea or seizures, which may prove dangerous should they slip and obstruct or be inhaled into the air passage. The need for oral hygiene is even greater if any denture is left in overnight.

When an implant-retained denture is removed, the implanted posts remain in the jaw so drifting of natural teeth into the vacant space or bone loss is not as much of a concern. However, without the denture in place to fill out the face, collapsing can still occur and structural integrity can still be compromised.

General tips for denture wearing

  • Good oral hygiene is crucial to avoid bad breath, inflammation, and infections. Visit our Denture Care page for more information.
  • Address any discomfort even if only mild, before it becomes acute and inconveniences your life
  • Schedule regular denture maintenance with your preferred denture clinic
  • Don’t leave your denture out for extended periods.
  • Do rest your mouth and gums by soaking, cleaning, and leaving the denture out overnight
  • Be aware of certain foods which can make denture wearing less comfortable, e.g. nuts and seeds, sticky foods like toffee and peanut butter. Avoid biting into apples or hard fruit and cut into smaller pieces instead.

A final word

The number of hours you should wear your denture in a 24-hour period will vary according to the type of denture you have and your lifestyle. While leaving your dentures out overnight is generally advised, there may be occasional exceptions to this rule, like the first 72 hours of acquiring an immediate denture, or while waiting to be seen for an adjustment, or for social reasons. Failing to address discomfort or lack of fit issues can lead to wearing your denture less which can have negative implications for your appearance, your oral health, nutritional status, and your budget.


i Savoca MR, Arcury TA, Leng X, Chen H, Bell RA, Anderson AM, Kohrman T, Gilbert GH, Quandt SA. Impact of denture usage patterns on dietary quality and food avoidance among older adults. J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2011;30(1):86-102. doi: 10.1080/01639366.2011.545043. PMID: 23286643; PMCID: PMC3545413.

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.

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