Research: Sleeping with dentures increases pneumonia risk

Posted at 11:23 AM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 14:18:23-04

SARASOTA, Fla. – Dentures; they have obvious benefits for those who wear them. Bt what about hidden dangers?

Which part of your body is the highest breeding ground for germs? “The mouth is the dirtiest part of the body. It has the highest number of organisms, bacterial, fungal et cetera,” says Dr. Lisa Brewer with New Image Dentistry.

The elderly, says Dr. Brewer, are highest in numbers of denture wearers. “They are sleeping in them, they really shouldn’t be sleeping in them.”

The contact surface between the dentures and tissue are areas of concern, she says. “Where bacteria gets up underneath the denture and then multiplies.”

Now, a new study published in the Journal of Dental Research finds more than 40% of those who wore their dentures during sleep were at higher risk for pneumonia than those who removed their dentures at night.

“Never sleep with your denture in place. Reason being is that tissue needs to breathe.” Dr. Kelly Clarke of BayView Dental says you can get an infection on your mouth. “You get food stuck up underneath there, bacteria stuck up underneath there, and that causes thrush.”

Take dentures out at night, says Clarke, clean them, put them in a glass of water and then put them back in in the morning. “You want to brush them with a brush, like a toothbrush. And there's denture creams or paste that you will use and you just scrub it like your normal teeth.”

This is when you want to clean them: “Cleaned before they're soaked, and then cleaned after they're soaked in some type of denture cleanser.”

It seems like the mouth is the most ignored part of the body, says Dr. Brewer. “They don't clean elderly people’s teeth in the hospital or in health care settings. They just don't.”