Have you ever asked yourself: What should I soak my dentures in at night? Dr Google is not always helpful, offering sometimes confusing information and a plethora of ads promoting various cleaning products. So, how do you sort the useful advice from the useless when it comes to soaking your dentures? Could it be that a combination of measures rather than just a single measure like soaking, will best serve your denture’s longevity and your oral health? A review of some of the latest research revealed the following.
Should you soak your dentures in water overnight?
You may wonder if you clean your dentures thoroughly, why is it necessary to soak your denture at all? It appears there are two main reasons for soaking your denture overnight: the first is to preserve your optimal oral health, with the second reason being to maintain your denture’s structural integrity thus ensuring you benefit from its maximum life and minimise pathogen build up. Both reasons depend on keeping your denture clean and its surface scratch and fissure free to prevent bacterial and fungal colonisation like Candida albicans, harmful to you and your denture.
Why clean your dentures before soaking?
Common consensus among oral health care professionals is that soaking your dentures should be an essential part of your denture care regime. But making sure they are cleaned in a way that doesn’t leave them exposed to harmful biofilms and structural damage is also important.iii Using regular bath soap or hand washing liquids to clean your dentures for example, may not provide the antibacterial protection of specially formulated denture cleaning products.iv One study compared storing the denture in water containing cleaning tablets with simply soaking the denture in plain water. However, while using the water infused with a cleaning agent reduced the overall surface bacteria count beyond that of just using water, it did not affect the count of the most common fungal colonisation besetting denture wearers, Candida albicans. Clearly something additional to soaking is needed to effectively clean a denture. Brushing your dentures thoroughly before storing them overnight assists in reducing Candida albicans colonisation, while ultrasonic cleaning as opposed to the generally accepted method of using a brush for cleaning dentures, proved even more effective than mechanical brushing. You will find more detailed information on how to clean dentures at home here on our page, Denture Care.
Using the correct denture brush
A denture brush is quite different from the regular toothbrush used to clean natural teeth. The denture brush bristles are firm but not hard, to avoid damage to the denture. The two different brush heads on the denture brush, one broad and the other tapered, are designed to clean the differing surface shapes of your denture, reaching into narrow crevasses and around clasps where bacteria may gather. Scrubbing away at your denture with the wrong brush (one not meant specifically for dentures), will create micro fissures, sometimes not detected with the naked eye, into which bacteria and opportunistic fungi may secrete themselves. In addition, these fissures may eventually become cracks and compromise the structural integrity of your denture making it more susceptible to breakage. Equally, using abrasive substances like ordinary toothpaste to clean your denture may also damage its base.
Which denture soaking agent?
If soaking your denture overnight is considered best practice, what you choose to soak them in is also important. Plain tap or distilled water, cleansing solutions, pastes, gels, foams, powders or tablets – which is best? And for how long? Each product is designed for the same purpose and has similar constituents, working in conjunction with the prescribed brushing regime.v Some denture wearers avoid chemical cleansing agents because the chemicals they contain irritate their soft oral tissues, preferring instead to use tap or distilled water. However, it has been found that using distilled water can significantly increase fungal load.vi It is also not recommended to leave your denture soaking for longer than 12 hours and always closely follow the directions given for your preferred cleaning agent. Instructions for cleansing products containing sodium hypochlorite or sodium chlorite bleach for example, recommend a maximum immersion time of 10 minutes.vii Because of the various materials from which dentures are made, it is important to always follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for their cleaning product to avoid compromising your denture’s aesthetic qualities and longevity.
While cleaning your denture then soaking is the preferable practice, occasionally leaving your denture to dry after cleaning will not compromise its structural stability.viii
Specific denture-base material cleaning agent requirements
Protecting your removable denture means not only choosing the right cleaning device and correct cleaning technique but also the prescribed cleaner for the material the denture base is made of. As has been mentioned, preserving the delicate surface of your denture protects both your health and the longevity of your denture.
Acrylic based dentures are the most commonly worn and easily damaged by using harsh chemical cleaners, a hard brush or vigorous brushing motion.
Metal based dentures are more robust, however the attached teeth can suffer with the wrong treatment. Bleach-based cleaners while effective for reducing microbial load, may tarnish and corrode the metal components on metal-based dentures.
Thermoplastic resin-based dentures usually require specialist products and cleaning methods prescribed by the resin manufacturers and it’s best to check if warranties are invalidated if these are not adhered to.
Polymer-based dentures appear to be compatible with regular denture care and cleaning methods. However, following polymer manufacturer’s directions for care and cleaning is advised.
Denture-base reline materials and conditioners made of plasticised acrylic resin may leach out the plasticiser if soaked in chemical denture cleaners, leading to hardening or cracking of the lining. However, denture reline materials containing silicone elastomer contain no plasticiser and may retain their softness for longer when soaked in chemical denture cleaners. Effervescent type cleaners are not recommended at all for plasticised acrylic dentures and reline materials, and have been found to compromise silicone elastomer-based reline materials more than bleach-based cleaning agents.ix Gentle brushing with a soft bristle brush is always advised.
What NOT to soak your dentures in
We have explored a multi-pronged approach to preserving your dentures and your oral health, so let’s now consider what to avoid. Soaking your dentures in corrosive substances can harm both your denture’s structural integrity and your health. It can also spoil the appearance of your denture. While mouth washes and isopropyl alcohol may serve to kill harmful bacteria, they may also potentially damage the delicate surface of your denture. The same applies to household bleach. Household soaps, vinegar and salt are ineffective for eliminating plaque-based bacteria. Even though some denture cleaners contain peroxide, household peroxide is not the same and should not be used as they can also potentially harm your denture. Soaking dentures in hot water can warp and change their shape.
A final word
Solving the question of what to soak your denture in overnight, turns out to be more than simply selecting a product and cleaning option and leaving it at that. Effective denture cleaning and preservation involves a two-pronged approach: cleaning the denture thoroughly then soaking overnight in water with a denture-base-appropriate cleaning agent. Find out what your denture is made of and inform yourself of its particular requirements. Following not only the cleansing agent’s manufacturer’s instructions closely, but also the recommendations of the denture-base-material manufacturer, will minimise unnecessary damage. Using a whole denture-cleaning regime, involving the correct toothbrush and brushing technique and choice of soaking agent, will protect your oral health and the longevity of your denture.
[i] Duyck J, Vandamme K, Krausch-Hofmann S, Boon L, De Keersmaecker K, Jalon E, et al. (2016) Impact of Denture Cleaning Method and Overnight Storage Condition on Denture Biofilm Mass and Composition: A Cross-Over Randomized Clinical Trial. PLoS ONE 11 (1): e0145837. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.014583Published: January 5, 201
[ii]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362826531_The_Effect_of_Dentures'_Overnight_Soaking_in_Distilled_Water_A_Mycological_Pilot_StudyTY - BOOK
[iii] Mylonas, P., Milward, P. & McAndrew, R. Denture cleanliness and hygiene: an overview. Br Dent J 233, 20–26 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4397-1
[iv] Mylonas, P., Milward, P. & McAndrew, R. Denture cleanliness and hygiene: an overview. Br Dent J 233, 20–26 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4397-1
[v] Mylonas, P., Milward, P. & McAndrew, R. Denture cleanliness and hygiene: an overview. Br Dent J 233, 20–26 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4397-1
[vi] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362826531_The_Effect_of_Dentures'_Overnight_Soaking_in_Distilled_Water_A_Mycological_Pilot_StudyTY - BOOK
[vii] www.healthline.com>health Cleaning dentures properly: what to do and how to store them
[viii] The effect of overnight storage conditions on complete denture colonization by Candida albicans and dimensional stability: A systematic review - ScienceDirect
[ix]. Mylonas, P., Milward, P. & McAndrew, R. Denture cleanliness and hygiene: an overview. Br Dent J 233, 20–26 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-43
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