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Launch of new denture guidelines will vastly improve the consistency and quality of advice – Dr Nigel Carter OBE


  Posted by: The Probe      26th October 2018

A recent review has highlighted severe confusion around the best practice for denture care – not only among denture wearers but throughout the dental profession too.

Recommendations from professional bodies online and the literature illustrated a lack of awareness around – how to clean dentures, what to clean them with, and how often they should be soaked. These examples, alongside numerous others, have raised concerns about how patients have been taking care of their dentures.

This lack of clarity has also led to another of our findings – that the standard of cleanliness amongst denture wearers is poor. Given that the oral health and general health risks associated with poor denture cleaning and maintenance can be extremely serious, we have sought to address the issue of the correct way to clean dentures. As a result, the Oral Health Foundation has published new guidelines on the best care and maintenance of full dentures. These guidelines were developed by an independent global taskforce and with an educational grant from GSK.

By working together, the dental profession will play a leading role in helping patients get this information.

Daily cleaning and soaking

Dentures can get built-up with deposits such as microbial plaque, calculus and food debris. Denture wearers often complain of oral issues such as denture stomatitis, bad breath and staining.

An unfortunate but common misconception among denture wearers is that since they have lost all their teeth, there is no need to take care of them. Of course, this could not be further from the truth. Patients must understand that dentures require the same level of care and attention as natural teeth.

For example, denture stomatitis is a chronic condition that can compromise a patient’s quality of life, not just that of their oral health. Dental professionals have the responsibility to make patients aware of the risks of failing to look after their dentures and giving them the correct advice on how to care for them.

Patients need to clean their dentures daily by both brushing and soaking them. Brushing can be done with either a toothbrush or a denture brush along with an effective, non-abrasive denture cleanser. Toothpaste should not be used and has been shown to damage the denture, often causing scratches and surface material loss and increasing the build-up of plaque.

Night-time respite

There also has been a lack of clarity in advice on whether dentures should be left in at night. Recommendations had ranged from removal for several hours to no removal necessary at all. Understandably, this created confusion, not only for patients but us as dental professionals too. The variety of messaging out there is disturbing and has quite often been personal opinion, not based on scientific evidence.

There is evidence to show that wearing dentures for longer time periods or overnight, may lead to an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia. We should be advising denture wearers to take them out overnight unless they have specific reasons for leaving them in.

Keeping in touch with patients

Maintaining an on-going dialogue and regular contact with denture wearers is just as important as it is with patients who still have all their own natural teeth. Denture wearers must feel they can talk to their dentist about any problems they may be having, as well as for general advice about looking after their oral health.

This is why regular recall and maintenance programmes should be recommended to all patients with dentures.

The amount of inconsistent and often unproven advice about cleaning and maintaining dentures is confusing for the denture patient and we need the help of the dental profession to fix this issue.

These new recommendations can help health professionals give patients clear and trustworthy advice about the best way to look after their dentures. n

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