Sleeping with your dentures in place is a bad habit that has several negative health consequences. While many people prefer the comfort of sleeping without them, others may forget to take them out at night or simply not want to go through the process of cleaning them and the gum tissue.

But are you aware of what can happen if you sleep with your dentures?

Consequences of sleeping with dentures

Full lower dentures above the gums

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Not everyone realizes that leaving your dentures in overnight can have such serious side effects. If you forget and just leave them in for one night, hopefully you won't experience any serious issues. But even just one night can cause minor problems in some cases. Let's talk about four most common complications.

Denture sore

Dentures sit right on top of your gum tissue. When you eat and speak, the friction between the denture and the gums can cause sore spots. Once you've had your dentures for a while and enough adjustments have been made, you will not experience frequent denture sores.

However, leaving your dentures in all night causes unnecessary friction and can create sores that would have otherwise never happened.

Stomatitis

Probably the most common side effect of sleeping with dentures is denture stomatitis. This presents as a red, inflamed palate (the roof of your mouth) that is infected with fungi (yeast microorganisms). This gum inflammation will cause you (and others) to notice that you have very bad breath. That fungi can also enter the corners of your mouth and cause angular cheilitis.

If you have denture stomatitis, your dental professional will need to prescribe medication and you may not be able to wear your denture for a few days.

Pneumonia

Studies show that people who sleep with their dentures are more than twice as likely to get pneumonia, a lung infection that can be very serious and even deadly in some cases. That may surprise you. How can dentures be related to your lungs?

The pneumonia-causing bacteria travel from the mouth to the lungs. If you don't remove your dentures at night, they act as a breeding ground for lots of bacteria and fungi. More bacteria can then enter the lungs, causing an increase in pneumonia cases. This is especially true for nursing home residents, as they do not always have as much access to care as healthier adults.

Dentures damage

Dentures wear out over time. Not taking proper care of your denture will cause it to breakdown quicker. Leaving your dentures in at night introduce them to unnecessary bacteria and fungi. In addition, they may not get properly cleaned. Failure to brush and soak your dentures can cause them to stain and crack.

There are rare instances when you will be directed to not remove your denture when you go to bed at night. Permanent dentures are not removable and are worn at all times. You should discuss how to take care of your oral health with your dentist if you have this type of denture.

Remove your dentures at night

Inserting full denture into the mouth

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Sleeping in dentures is a bad idea. It will just take a few minutes to perform the oral hygiene routine your dentures need to last longer. Make sure you remove all food particles and denture adhesive with a denture brush and warm water. Then, soak your dentures in water or denture cleanser while you sleep.

You'll also need to perform good oral hygiene. Make sure your mouth is clear of any food and adhesive. If you have any remaining natural teeth, brush them with regular toothpaste. Don't forget to floss. You should also brush your tongue to remove bacteria that could increase your risk of the above-mentioned problems.

FAQ

Do partial dentures need to be removed at night?

In almost all cases, dentures should be removed at night to prevent negative side effects like sore spots, stomatitis, damage to the dentures, and even pneumonia. If you have implant dentures that are not removable, ask your dentist how to care for your soft tissue.

How long should I leave my dentures out?

You should leave your dentures out for about eight hours. This will give your gum tissue time to breathe and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and fungi.

References

  1. The effect of nocturnal wear of dentures on the sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis - PubMed
  2. Denture Wearing during Sleep Doubles the Risk of Pneumonia in the Very Elderly - NIH