Proper denture care is vital to ensuring your dentures last and maintain their fit. If you read denture care instructions carefully, chances are you’ve come across the guidance that you shouldn’t soak dentures in alcohol mouthwash or wash them with isopropyl alcohol.
The reason for this is that exposing your dentures to alcohol could potentially be damaging. But what about drinking alcohol? Will drinking alcohol result in damage to your dentures?
The reason for avoiding alcohol contact with dentures is very simple. The material denture bases are made out of–polymethylmethacrylate or PMMA–is soluble in alcohol. But unlike putting a sugar cube in water, putting PMMA in alcohol doesn’t cause them to just dissolve. Instead, it develops tiny cracks that weaken dentures. This phenomenon, called crazing, can cause your dentures to fail, especially under irregular bite forces.
YouTube offers us a dramatic demonstration of how this happens. Watch how a sheet of plexiglass comes apart when put in contact with isopropyl alcohol. You don’t even really see the cracks until the plexiglass comes right apart.
If you clean your dentures with isopropyl alcohol, you might not think you’re doing damage, until your dentures fail.
There are three factors that determine how much effect alcohol will have on your dentures: the type of alcohol, the concentration, and the duration of exposure. Isopropyl alcohol is very different from the type of alcohol in whiskey, wine, beer, and other alcoholic drinks. The alcohol we drink is called ethanol, and it’s a lot less damaging on dentures than isopropyl alcohol.
The concentration of alcohol makes a big difference on how much damage it does, too. A 30% alcohol solution (60 proof) will damage PMMA, but a 10% solution won’t do any damage. This means that straight whiskey might cause more damage than most cocktails, wines, or beers. And remember that when you drink it, alcohol becomes diluted by the saliva in your mouth.
Exposure makes the biggest difference, too. So restrictions against soaking your dentures in alcohol are appropriate, but just drinking alcohol is unlikely to damage your dentures.
On the other hand, many people who drink a lot report denture pain, especially in their lower gums. This may be due to drying of the gum tissue, and may be indicative of alcohol being trapped under the denture–which could also accelerate denture damage. It seems as if this is worse in people with more bone resorption.
If you have questions about how to care for your dentures or are looking for quality replacement dentures in Philadelphia, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a denture dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.
Dental Excellence of Blue Bell