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."
Optimum solution for denture wearers
Research has shown that specialist denture cleansers are the optimal method for denture care hygiene - killing harmful oral micro organisms while being gentle on denture material.
At nearly one out of every three persons, the use of tablets for denture cleaning is low in Asia. This is more pronounced in developing markets like Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
The Asian study also reveals a need to increase awareness of denture wearers on the importance of making regular visits to the dentist.
A majority of respondents are unlikely to pay a visit to the dentist unless there was a specific problem to address, with as many as 36 per cent of respondents from Vietnam having never visited the dentist before.
With limited visits to the dentist, denture wearers are often unable to recall receiving advice on denture-cleaning from their dentist, with 50 per cent believing they have never received such advice.
"There is an opportunity to educate patients on the importance of regular visits to the dentist, as well as the proper use and care of dentures," said Dr Thravin Nathan, GSK's area medical director for Asia and Japan.
"With the number of denture wearers expected to rise as the ageing population in Asia increases, GSK is committed to ongoing research in oral healthcare, and delivering products that are driven by innovation and science."
Globally, 810 million people are aged 60 years or over; by 2050, they will number two billion (22 per cent of the world's population).
The incidence of denture-wearing is high in this age group and the percentage of denture wearers is expected to rise.
So it pays to take proper care of your dentures.