Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Approaches to Care in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment - Denture and Denture-Related Oral Lesions




Dentures require cleaning

  • Physical cleaning is essential to ensure dentures are clean
  • Physical cleaning of dentures at least once daily or more frequently in a bowl or sink filled with water (or a washcloth placed in the bottom of the sink). Clean with denture cleaning paste and a denture brush.
  • Chemical denture cleaner tablets or pastes can be used in addition to cleaning with soap and water.

Dentures are dirty and covered in calculus (tartar)

  • Regular removal of calculus, debris and staining is essential.
  • Dentures may be soaked at night or during the day in a solution of diluted white vinegar and cold water (50:50). This applies to acrylic dentures only.
  • Dentures may need professional and chemical cleaning by a dental professional.

Denture storage container is dirty.

  • Regular sterilization of denture storage containers is required.
  • Weekly, or more frequently, physical cleaning of the denture storage container and then soaking in a solution of diluted sodium hypochlorite (bleach) for 1 hour. Clean with soap and water before using.

Dentures are not named

  • All partial and full dentures should be named
  • Permanent naming of dentures can be done by a dental professional by inserting the name into the denture.
  • Temporary naming of dentures can be done by caregivers – very lightly sand the pink acrylic denture surface on the cheek side (not the fitting side), write on initials or name with a permanent marker or dark pencil, cover with several layers of clear nail varnish and allow to thoroughly dry. Temporary commercial kits are available from medical/dental suppliers.

Denture stomatitis the soft tissue under where the denture sits is red/inflamed/painful/bleeding

  • Regular cleaning/sterilization of dentures
  • Physical cleaning of dentures at least once daily, or more frequently. Removal of dentures at night whenever possible.
  • Treatment must be done in consultation with a dental professional – dentures may require sterilization in diluted sodium hypochlorite (bleach), and an antifungal medication may need to be prescribed and placed inside the denture’s fitting surface.

Angular cheilitis – the corners of the mouth are red/weeping/painful

  • Treatment of fungal infection, if present.
  • Lubricating and protection of corners of mouth.
  • Attention to any denture-related problems
  • Treatment must be done in consultation with a dental professional – antifungal cream may need to be prescribed and applied to the corners of the mouth. Apply moisturizer to corners of mouth several times daily to protect the skin. Dentures may require treatment, especially if recurring angular cheilitis persist.

An ulcer is present under the denture

  • Removal of cause of irritation to allow the soft tissue to heal.
  • Whenever possible, remove denture until ulcer is healed. Warm salt and water mouthrinses/spray bottle/saturated gauze can be applied several times daily to ulcer.
  • Use of numbing gels/ointments must be carefully monitored and is not generally advised.
Clinical Management
Oral Health: Nursing Assessment and Intervention
Point of Care Resources