3 Reasons Why You Should Remove Your Dentures At Night: Advice For Seniors

Posted on: 17 March 2016

Experts estimate that around 178 million people in the United States have at least one tooth missing, and around 90 percent of these people wear dentures. For older patients, dentures are often an effective way to deal with missing teeth, but seniors are often less able to properly clean and look after these vital dental appliances. Find out why you need to remove your dentures overnight, and learn more about three serious health problems that may occur if you don't take out your false teeth before you go to sleep.

Increased risk of pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious condition that kills more than 53,000 people in the United States every year. For seniors, pneumonia is particularly dangerous. Older people are at higher risk of contracting the disease and their weakened immune systems also find it more difficult to fight off the infection. Older people with other health conditions, including long-term heart problems, are particularly susceptible.

Research shows that older people who wear their dentures at night double the risk of contracting pneumonia. In one study, researchers looked at a sample of 524 seniors over a three-year period. 453 of the participants wore dentures and 186 of those people wore the dental appliance at night.

Wearing false teeth at night can encourage the growth and development of harmful bacteria and viruses in the mouth, some of which may then cause pneumonia. What's more, at night, dentures can make it difficult to swallow, which, in turn, can further increase the risk of infection.

Denture-related stomatitis

Denture stomatitis (or thrush) is a fungal infection caused by a fungus called Candida. You'll probably find some Candida in everybody's mouths, but if the fungus grows out of control, you can experience sore, red patches in the mouth and at the corner of the lips.

Senior denture wearers are at higher risk of this condition. It's not always easy to keep false teeth clean, and if you wear them at night, you may encourage excess Candida growth. Left untreated, denture-related stomatitis can cause permanent damage that may make it harder to wear dentures in the future.

As well as brushing and soaking your dentures, you can normally deal with an infection by always taking your false teeth out at night. In some cases, a dentist may need to prescribe a special topical anti-fungal gel that you can apply to the denture surface and the affected areas of the mouth to speed up your recovery. However, you must tell your dentist if you take other medications before you use these gels. Some oral gels can cause complications for patients who take drugs like warfarin to thin their blood.

Bone loss

While dentures are a great cosmetic and practical solution for missing teeth, constant denture-wearing can take its toll on your remaining teeth and the jawbones that support them.

Once a tooth falls out, there is no longer a root in the jawbone. Without these roots to maintain the structure, the jawbone will begin to shrink. What's more, continual denture-wearing will accelerate this process. If the jawbone is under pressure from dentures throughout the day and night, bone loss will sometimes become a serious problem.

Significant bone loss can lead to a variety of increasingly serious issues. Your dentures may no longer fit properly, and you may find it harder to wear and use your false teeth. What's more, over time, bone loss can cause problems with your facial muscles, which can make it harder to chew properly.

Taking your dentures out at night takes away some of the pressure on your jawbone and facial muscles while you sleep. In turn, this means that your dentures are likely to perform well for a longer period, and you are less likely to need adjustments and replacements.

Many denture-wearing seniors continue to wear their false teeth while they sleep, but this habit can have serious health consequences. Talk to your cosmetic dentist about how you can look after your dentures and avoid these problems.