The Danger of Wearing Dentures Overnight

Do you sometimes not bother removing and cleaning your dentures before you go to sleep—even though it’s strongly recommended that you should? Perhaps a Japanese study published online in 2014 in the Journal of Dental Research will motivate you to do the task.

Researchers found that older adults who wear dentures while they sleep increase their risk significantly for developing pneumonia. In a study of 524 denture wearers ages 85 and older, 41 percent of those who wore their dentures through the night were more than twice as likely to develop pneumonia within a three-year follow-up period than individuals who removed them.

The researchers say the association between nighttime denture wearing and pneumonia has to do with oral health: Not removing dentures for routine cleaning or overnight soaking makes the mouth a prime breeding ground for bacteria, which can be breathed into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia.

What’s more, people who slept with their dentures in were more likely to have inflamed gums, tongue and dental plaque and oral Candidiasis (yeast) infections. It could also be that nighttime denture-wearing habits may reflect overall poor oral hygiene practices that put people at increased pneumonia risk: Overnight denture wearers visited the dentist and cleaned their dentures less often than their counterparts.