With more and more people keeping their teeth longer, it becomes more and more difficult to find a patient with full upper and lower dentures. That's not bad. People with teeth are healthier. People with teeth live longer. However, some people still need to replace missing teeth with dental appliances. Some people wear dental appliances for reasons other than tooth replacement, including orthodontic retainers, bite splints for TMJ disorder, or mouthguards for sporting activities.
Dental hygienists are often asked how to clean these appliances. The best thing to do is brush them every day with your toothbrush and regular toothpaste. Hold the appliance in your hand over the sink at waist height. Holding it higher risks the chance of the appliance slipping from your hand, crashing into the sink and breaking into pieces. Gently scrub the appliance with the toothpaste-coated toothbrush. Get all of the surfaces, front and back, inside and out, then rinse it under tepid water. Now dry the appliance with a paper towel. Get it really dry -- even blow on it. Do you see some kind of whitish hard deposit starting to show up? It's difficult to spot on a wet appliance, but once dry it may render your appliance unrecognizable. Once the appliance is as dry as it's going to get, you may start to see the buildup.
The hard deposit that you find on the partial denture, full dentures, mouth guard or retainer is a substance called calculus. It's a deposit that comes from saliva; it is much like the buildup in your coffee pot or the spigot on your sink. Please do not try to remove it with a knife, fork or sander. You cannot brush it off. The only bad thing about the accumulation of calculus on dental appliance is when it accumulates in one place it causes it to fit improperly. The usual place for it to form is the portion that is located behind the lower front teeth and in the area around the upper molars. Always bring your appliance with you to your dental hygiene appointments. We have a special solution to use to dissolve the deposits in our ultrasonic baths.
Here's what you can use at home to remove it: vinegar. Drop your retainer or mouth guard into a glass and cover it with vinegar. Let it soak for three to five minutes, scrub it with your tooth brush and look at it to determine if it needs to soak more. If there is metal on it, which is often the case with partial dentures, be very careful as vinegar can corrode the metal. Wet the brush with vinegar once a week and give it a good once over. You should have very little problem with keeping the calculus from forming on your partial by doing this.
If you have to wear an appliance of some kind, keep it as clean as or cleaner than your teeth. A little home remedy can make a world of difference.
If you're interested in getting a retainer or mouthguard, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!