Did you know there are more than 500 to 650 different species of bacteria in the mouth. There is an estimated 20 billion bacteria at any one moment which can multiply to 120 billion within 24 hours! The majority of these live on the tongue, under the gums and if you are a denture wearer, on your denture.
Among many other ways to clean a denture, using an ultrasonic denture cleaner is by far the best way to remove microbes. What Is an ultrasonic denture cleaner? In this article I will explain what this device is, why you should be using it, how to use one and where to purchase one.
As a dental hygienist, I see denture patients who have excellent home care techniques for cleaning their remaining teeth. However, they struggle to effectively clean their denture. A denture is a made of acrylic (plastic) which is porous. That means a ton of microbes can be hiding in areas a denture brush or denture soaking solution can never reach.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the mouth is full of bacteria. Some are good and some are bad. However, disease can occur and the mouth is the entryway to our bodies including the respiratory and digestive system. Mayo Clinic goes on to say that it is important to do all we can to reduce the microbial load in our mouths for our overall systemic health.
Traditional Denture Cleaners
There are many products sold for denture wearers to chose from. Among these are denture toothpastes and denture brushes. It is important to use cleaning products specifically recommended for dentures. If regular toothpastes are used, they may be too abrasive and cause tiny micro scratches in the acrylic. These scratches then become areas for more microbes to hide.
When a denture has rough areas or scratches, a biofilm (accumulation of bacteria) can more readily form. So, it is important to always use products that will not harm your denture or encourage more colonization of bacteria. Always look for a product that is accepted by the American Dental Association (ADA). This will ensure you are using a product that is not only effective but safe as well.
As far as a brush goes, you can use the same manual toothbrush you use when you brush the rest of your remaining teeth. There are toothbrushes specifically designed for dentures. If you do not have any remaining teeth, you may want to purchase one of these. The advantages to using a denture brush versus a traditional manual brush is the shape and size of the brush.
A denture brush usually has two separate brushes- one on each end of the handle. One side has a heavy-duty, thick brush with a fat head. This is a sturdy brush that is good for brushing the outsides of the denture and the inside area that comes in contact with the roof of the mouth. The other end of the denture brush will have a smaller, thinner brush. This brush is ideal for fitting in the tight spaces on the inside of the denture directly under where the teeth are set. This area is very narrow and can be hard to reach using a regular manual toothbrush.
Usually a denture brush is firmer than a manual toothbrush. The bristles are still considered soft but will be a bit stiffer to allow for more aggressive brushing. If you buy a brush specifically for dentures, it will still be soft enough not to cause scratches in the acrylic. Here is information I share with my denture patients on basic care of their dentures:
A denture soaking solution is a great product to help keep your denture clean. It is also an appropriate product to use when to keep your dentures in overnight. Dental professionals recommend removing your denture every night to help keep the tissues in your mouth healthy.
Sleeping in your dentures is like sleeping with your shoes on. You need to give your tissues adequate time to be without your denture to stay healthy. Also, by removing your denture at night, you will be removing something that attracts bacteria and plaque. This helps you maintain the health of your remaining teeth.
You will always want to place your dentures in liquid overnight. This is where a denture soaking solution can help. If you do not have a denture soaking solution, you will want to place your dentures in a cup or container with plain water. Never allow your denture to be without liquid as this can cause warping of the material it is made from and change its fit.
So, What Is an Ultrasonic Denture Cleaner? Why Use One?
An ultrasonic denture cleaner is a small electrical device containing a water reservoir or bath. It is an ideal adjunct to basic denture care and is proven effective for achieving maximum removal of bacteria and debris. Wikipedia describes ultrasonic cleaning as: “Ultrasonic cleaning uses cavitation bubbles induced by high frequency pressure (sound) waves to agitate a liquid. The agitation produces high forces on contaminants adhering to substrates like metals, plastics, glass, rubber, and ceramics. This action also penetrates blind holes, cracks, and recesses. The intention is to thoroughly remove all traces of contamination tightly adhering or embedded onto solid surfaces.”
When operated to clean a denture, it creates tiny microscopic bubbles. These bubbles are forcefully propelled against the denture causing a cavitation action. When these bubbles burst, they create an intense agitation action which helps to loosen and remove debris.
The reason it is important to use one of these devices is the fact that they can remove substantially more bacterial plaque and biofilm than a traditional denture toothpaste and brush. Using an electron microscope, studies have shown that even after the most careful brushing session, significant microbes remained.
It is a good idea to use an ultrasonic device as an adjunct to your denture paste and denture brush. It is not meant to replace these measures but instead to supplement it. An ultrasonic denture cleaner is efficient at removing microscopic microorganisms but your denture brush will be best at removing visible, larger debris.
What Is the Science Behind Ultrasonic Cleaners?
During ultrasonic cleaning, the denture is placed in a reservoir or bath of water. A few drops of dish soap or denture cleaning powder can be added to the water if you prefer. These powders can be purchased at your drug store or on Amazon. Use warm water but never very hot water. Extremely hot water can actually change the shape of the denture.
When the device is turned on, a transducer will produce high-frequency sound waves throughout the water. These sound waves are on a frequency higher than what can reach the human ear. These high-frequency waves in the water create a high intensity cleaning action within the water by creating microscopic unstable bubbles.
It does this by a process of cavitation. By this, I mean the process of the millions of tiny bubbles that are created within the water from the sound waves. You see, as these tiny bubbles burst they create a cleansing action to the denture that is submerged in the water. With the bursting of these bubbles, a vacuum sensation is created that sucks the microbes and debris off and away from the denture.
How to Use An Ultrasonic Denture Cleaner
Before placing your dentures in the ultrasonic denture cleaner, be sure to brush them well. If you cannot brush them, at least rinse them off under water. Brushing and rinsing them will remove any large visible particles or food debris. It is important to remember to always place a small amount of water in the bottom of your sink when you are rinsing or brushing your denture. This will prevent your denture from chipping or breaking if you were to drop it in the sink. Also, placing a washcloth on the bottom of the sink before running the water can help prevent damage to your denture if you drop it.
Then simply place the denture in the water reservoir of the ultrasonic denture cleaner and turn on the machine. As mentioned earlier, you can use plain water or add a drop of liquid dish soap or cleaning powder solution (sold separately) to the water. This is not necessary but more of a personal preference.
Once the unit is powered on, it will clean your denture using an ultrasonic cleaning motion. It will automatically shut off when the cleaning process is done. You can take your denture out at any time prior to the full 5-minute cycle. This can be done if you are just doing a quick touch-up or freshening up of your denture. After you remove the denture, rinse it off and then it is ready to be placed in your mouth.
Using an ultrasonic denture cleaner is something you can do every day if you like. It only takes 5 minutes and can easily be done while you are showering or getting ready in the morning. If it is more convenient to you, place your dentures in the ultrasonic denture cleaner at night. You can run it for 5 minutes and then just leave it in there overnight until morning when you are ready to place it back in.
What’s the Best Ultrasonic Denture Cleaner?
In the dental office, dental professionals truly believe in the ability of ultrasonic cleaning. In fact, did you know that’s what we use when we clean the dentures of our denture patients? That’s right. When you come in for your dental cleaning, we place your denture in an ultrasonic cleaner in our lab to clean it. This machine is much larger than the one you can buy for home use. However, it is the same type of machine and uses the same ultrasonic cleaning mechanism.
Dental professionals recommend this effective model for home use:
This unit is an effective, compact dental ultrasonic cleaner. It can be used for dentures, partials, retainers and clear plastic aligners. It comes with cleaning powder that can be added to water for additional removal of stains and deposits. There is also a separate ISonic cleaning powder available for purchase if you desire. This unit is highly recommended because of its efficacy, durability and affordability. You get a great product at a great price. It uses the same ultrasonic cleaning technology used in dental offices.
This is the product description given on Amazon for the ISonic F3900 Ultrasonic Denture/Aligner/Retainer Cleaner:
“iSonic Ultrasonic Denture/Retainer Cleaner offers the best performance and price combination. It cleans dentures, retainers including Invisalign, night guards etc. deeply and thoroughly. AC powered, true ultrasonic cleaner. Much more powerful and effective than battery operated sonic cleaners. One button to push with 5-minute auto shut off and it is done. Use tap water for daily cleaning. Denture cleaning tablets or solutions can be used for enhanced cleaning to help to remove buildups and stains. Cleans small jewelry too. Polished stainless steel tank for easy cleaning and maintenance. Small size to fit on a counter by a sink. 0.4 Pt / 0.2 L tank capacity. Tank size (triangular) 3.1”x3.0”x1.5” / 7.8×7.5×3.8 cm. Unit size 7.0”x4.7”x4.7″. Power 20 W, 110 V. Accessories included: plastic tray. White color with blue lid. Blue LED light. 5 international safety certifications including GS for Germany which has the toughest safety standard assure highest quality.”
Get Your Cleanest Denture Yet!
In conclusion, I encourage you to take care of your denture in the best way possible. Why only remove some microbes when you could be doing so much more? If you could only see what just brushing and rinsing leaves behind, I know you would not want to be without this product. Try the ISonic F3900 Ultrasonic Denture Cleaner for yourself. You will see a noticeable cleaning-the same kind of cleaning from the dental office.
As mentioned, this product does not replace regular brushing of your denture but should be used in conjunction with it for your most optimal clean. I hope I have answered the question- what is an ultrasonic dental cleaner? I have explained what it is, why you need one, how to use it and where to purchase one.
Don’t forget to take care of any remaining teeth as well if you have them. The health of your body begins with your mouth. I encourage you to do all that you can to reduce the bacterial load inside of your mouth. We now know the detrimental connection between poor oral hygiene and poor overall health. Cleaning your remaining teeth can best be achieved by using an electric toothbrush, oral irrigator or other interdental cleaner and controlling dry mouth symptoms.
Please remember to visit your dentist for regular checkups. You should be doing this even if you wear dentures replacing all of your teeth. Having a dental exam allows your dentist to fully examine all of your tissues, ensure proper fit of your dentures and perform an oral cancer screening. According to an article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) this exam should be done at least once per year. I invite you to leave any questions and comments below and I would be happy to help.
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