Millions of people wear an oral appliance for replacing their teeth, preventing functional damage, or as a part of ongoing dental treatment. If you're among them, then cleaning and maintaining your appliance can protect you from disease, as well as extend the longevity of your device.
Here, then, are 4 great tips for taking care of your appliance, for its sake—and yours.
Use detergent for cleaning. Because it's an oral appliance, you might think toothpaste is a good cleaning option. But toothpaste contains abrasives that, although just right for removing dental plaque without damaging tooth enamel, can be too harsh for some materials in your appliance. Using toothpaste could create micro-scratches in your appliance's plastic or porcelain that collect bacteria. Instead, use an antimicrobial dish detergent or hand soap to clean your appliance.
Stay away from boiling or bleaching. True, both hot or boiling water and household bleach kill bacteria. Both, however, could also damage your appliance. Very hot water can soften and distort the heat-sensitive plastic contained in many dental appliances, which can ruin their fit. Bleach can also break down the plastics in many appliances, and may "blanch" or whiten areas like denture bases that are meant to resemble natural gum tissue.
Handle carefully while out of the mouth. In the "outside" world, your appliance can be at greater risk for damage or breakage from hard surfaces, kids or pets. As a precaution while cleaning your appliance, be sure to place a towel or other soft item in and around the sink to cushion the appliance should you accidentally drop it. And, be sure while storing it out of your mouth that you place it high enough out of the reach of tiny hands—or paws.
Avoid 24/7 denture wear. If you wear your dentures while you sleep, they're more likely to accumulate bacteria and make your mouth more susceptible to infection. It's better, then, to take your dentures out at night and store them in clean water or a cleaning solution designed for dentures. Removing your dentures during the night will help you avoid disease, as well as minimize unpleasant odors or filmy buildup on your dentures.