Can you leave dentures in overnight?

The answer to the oft asked question ‘can you leave your denture in overnight? is, you can but it’s not advisable. However, when we delve a little deeper there can be exceptions to this rule, as well as varying degrees of risk. Being very elderly or having sleep disorders, epilepsy or diminished responsibility can exacerbate the risk of wearing dentures overnight. For the denture wearer who for reasons of avoiding embarrassment wears their denture overnight occasionally, the harm is minimal. In this article we
discuss reasons to avoid wearing your dentures while you sleep and the possible negative outcomes. How the type of denture can also matter when contemplating whether to leave them in while you sleep.

When is it ok to wear my denture overnight?

There are exceptions to the rule of not wearing your denture overnight. 

  • If you have had your teeth extracted and an immediate denture fitted, your dentist or oral surgeon may suggest you do not remove the denture for at least 72 hours until post operative swelling subsides and bleeding is stemmed. Leaving the immediate denture in place in this situation even while you sleep, helps your mouth to conform to the shape of the denture.
  • Of course, if you are wearing an implant-supported denture then because it is removable only by your dentist, leaving it in overnight is the only option.
  • In certain social situations you may wish to avoid being without your denture overnight. Provided you are healthy with no sleep apnoea and a good hygiene practice, wearing a well-fitting denture for one or two nights will not be detrimental. This should not become a habit however, for the following reasons.

Why you should not wear your denture overnight

If you are wearing your denture constantly including overnight, there is little chance for the tissues of your gums to rest and recuperate after the pressure of chewing and eating during the day. Sore spots can result causing discomfort and increasing the risk of infections like stomatitis.

Research conducted in older populations found the risk of pneumonia also increased.i This is because constant denture wearing creates an environment conducive to bacteria flourishing which can then be inhaled into your lungs. Since swallowing is more difficult when you wear dentures, increased denture usage means a greater likelihood of forcing moisture into your lungs leading to chest infections like pneumonia.ii 

For those with issues like diminished responsibility, sleeping disorders or epilepsy, a denture may become dislodged during sleep and block the airway causing a medical emergency. This is especially the case for partial dentures because of their smaller size.

What to do with my denture overnight?

There seems to be conflicting advice in this area. Perhaps you’ve been advised to leave your denture immersed in water overnight to prevent it drying out and avoid distortion of the acrylic base. One study evaluating this premise found that when compared to the benefit of allowing the denture to dry overnight, the risk of denture distortion, was minimal. After cleaning and leaving overnight to dry, the bacterial count for Candida
Albicans on the denture’s surface was significantly reduced, whereas any change in the acrylic resin base was small.iii Since effective infection control and treatment is essential for the denture wearer’s comfort and overall health, leaving a denture to dry in a safe place overnight seems prudent.

How can I keep my denture safe overnight?

Safe overnight storage of dentures can be a challenge especially for carers of patients in institutional care, or when you are travelling. The denture box provides safe, hygienic storage and easy identification to avoid loss or damage.iv Some denture clinics also offer an engraving service to permanently mark the dentures with the owner’s name.

What should I soak my dentures in?

As part of your hygiene regime, after cleaning with a denture brush, soak your dentures in plain water or a mild denture cleaning solution. However, take care to follow manufacturer’s directions closely to avoid damage because they may recommend a limited soaking time. Always avoid using household bleach or hot water as these will warp and damage the delicate surface of your denture. For more comprehensive cleaning instructions see here.

A final word

Leaving your dentures in overnight is not recommended by oral health researchers for good reason. However, there are exceptions to this rule as outlined in this article, such as immediate dentures or at other times for social reasons. To preserve the longevity and aesthetic qualities of your denture, as well as your good health, a simple rule of thumb is to avoid leaving your dentures in overnight while maintaining a thorough cleaning
regime. The occasional divergence from this rule is not a problem unless you have other health issues.



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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