A new study on the cleaning routines of more than 2,800 denture wearers in six countries - Brazil, China, India, Italy, Japan and the United States - found that more than 10 different types of cleaning methods are being used by wearers, instead of specialist denture cleansers.
These methods, which include toothpaste, household bleach, dishwashing detergent and vinegar, often don't kill key bacterial and fungal micro-organisms, and can even damage denture materials with their abrasiveness.
Most denture wearers use regular toothpaste to clean their dentures, followed by water, mouthwash and denture tablet cleansers, used either alone or in combination.
The findings were announced recently at a symposium sponsored by GSK, at the International Association of Dental Research General Session (IADR) in South Africa.
It looks clean, but it's not
While regular toothpaste is used by large numbers of denture wearers, research shows that it fails to effectively kill Candida albicans, a fungus that can cause denture stomatitis (thrush), and other forms of bacteria that cause odour and gum infections.
"Toothpaste does not completely kill off Candida, even after five minutes of treatment," said GSK principal scientist Dr David Bradshaw.
Other methods, including soap, many mouthwashes and water also perform inadequately in the tests. In addition, regular toothpaste and some mouthwashes can damage denture materials.
Asians unaware of risks
A separate study of 1,274 denture wearers in Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan) reveals similar findings.
Using toothpaste to clean one's denture occurs more frequently than using specialist denture cleansers or other methods, with 63 per cent of respondents believing that their toothpaste performs the job of cleaning their dentures very well.
Reasons for choosing toothpaste instead of denture cleansers, include cost, wanting to treat dentures like normal teeth, the lack of awareness of available products in the market, and simplicity of method.Dr Lau Lake Koon, a dentist from Malaysia reinforced this when he said, "Most denture wearers are not aware of proper denture cleaning methods and they usually use toothpaste as a common substitute.
"Denture wearers need to be properly advised and given a properly-fitted denture. Additionally, they need to be taught about after-care. We encourage them to seek regular check-ups to ensure healthy gums."