Caring for a Patient’s Dentures

Written by Amanda R. McDaniel, MS, BSN, RN
Amanda is a BSN/RN with a MS in Physiology and a BA in English. She worked as a medical writer in the pharmaceutical industry for 11 years before pursuing a career in nursing. She now works as a nurse on a NeuroTelemetry unit and continues to write and edit on a freelance basis. Amanda’s LinkedIn

For patients with dentures, care of the dentures is just as important as brushing natural teeth. Good denture hygiene and fit helps prevent oral irritation and infection.

Providing Denture Care

  1. Gather your equipment.
    • Gloves
    • Soft-bristled toothbrush
    • Toothpaste (regular or denture specific)
    • Denture adhesive
    • Emesis basin
    • 4×4 inch gauze
    • Denture cup
  2. Introduce yourself to the patient, perform hand hygiene, and put on gloves. Close the door or draw the curtain to ensure patient privacy.
  3. Ask the patient what they feel comfortable doing and what they would like assistance with. Also ask if they feel their dentures fit properly and if they are having any oral pain or tenderness. Allow them to do as much as possible independently.
  4. Fill the emesis basin with room-temperature water.
  5. Ask the patient to remove their dentures.
    • If the patient needs assistance, wrap your thumb and index finger in gauze. Grasp the front of upper plate and pull downward then out. Lift the lower plate up then out. You may need to twist the plates a bit to the side to comfortably remove them from the patient’s mouth.
  6. Place the dentures in the water in the emesis basin.
  7. Apply denture cleaner or toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  8. Brush the teeth of the dentures just as you would natural teeth; with up-and-down motions on the front and back surfaces and back-and-forth motions on the bite surfaces. Use a back-and-forth motion to clean the palate and inner surfaces of the dentures.
    • Be sure to hold the dentures close to the surface of the water so that you or the patient does not get the unexpected and unpleasant surprise of being äóìsprayedäó by the motion of the toothbrush.
    • Note if there are any sharp edges or cracked or broken areas of the dentures.
  9. Rinse the dentures thoroughly with clean, room-temperature water. Water that is too hot or cold can damage the dentures.
  10. Ask the patient if they would like to re-insert their dentures or store the dentures for a later time.
    • If they elect to store their dentures, place the dentures in a denture cup and cover with room-temperature water.
    • Make sure that the cup is labeled with the patient’s name.
  11. Ask the patient if they use denture adhesive. If they do, apply a thin layer to the undersurface of the denture.
  12. Moisten the dentures and press firmly into place. Watch the patient for signs of discomfort and ask if the dentures feel seated correctly.
  13. Dispose of the water in the emesis basin. Clean the toothbrush and store the supplies in the appropriate location.
  14. Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  15. Record the hygiene procedure per institutional or unit policy. Report any patient complaints of pain or tenderness, or defects in the dentures to the nurse per policy.

Amanda R. McDaniel, MS, BSN, RN


Hygiene. (2014). In A. G. Perry, P. A. Potter, and W. R. Ostendorf (Eds), Clinical nursing skills & techniques (8th ed., pp. 410). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

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