CNA Skill: Clean Upper or Lower Dentures

Patients who wear dentures may need your assistance in cleaning and caring for dentures.  Dentures are often costly, and replacement may be difficult for your patient.  If dentures are not cared for properly, they can lead to painful infections of the mouth that are difficult to treat.  Before you begin, wash your hands thoroughly and obtain all necessary supplies.  Greet your patient, and explain that you are going to help them clean their dentures.  If the patient is able, have them remove the dentures and give them to you.  If the patient requires assistance, remove the dentures carefully, starting with the upper denture by gently moving the denture up and down to break the seal, and then gently sliding the denture out of the mouth.  Once you have obtained the dentures, follow these steps:

  • Take the dentures to the sink, line the basin with a washcloth, and fill the basin partway with warm water, but do not place the dentures in the sink.
  • Using a toothbrush, clean the surface of the dentures as if you were brushing your own teeth.  Work with one denture at a time, and use a small amount of toothpaste or denture cleaner.  Be sure to clean the areas where the denture comes in contact with the gums or roof of the mouth.
  • Rinse the denture thoroughly and place it into a clean denture cup filled with cool water to prevent contaminating it.  Repeat this process with the other denture.
  • Assist the patient with proper oral care using sponge swabs and mouthwash.  Look into the mouth for signs of infection such as lesions.  If you find anything concerning, do not insert the dentures, and immediately report it to the nurse.

After the procedure is complete, assist the patient in re-inserting the dentures.  Be sure to provide dental adhesive as necessary.  Ensure your patient is in a comfortable position in bed.  Remove your gloves and dispose of them properly.  Wash your hands carefully.  Proper care of dentures will help your patient to remain independent and to enjoy eating.  Take the time to ensure your patient’s mouth is healthy to prevent infection or complications.

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Examiner Checklist For This Skill:

Note: This checklist is for a generalized “oral hygeine” CNA skill test.

1) Performed beginning tasks.
2) Positioned resident.
3) Cleaned oral cavity using appropriate oral hygiene products.
4) Rinsed oral cavity.
5) Repeated steps 3 and 4 until oral cavity was clean.
6) Cleaned and rinsed teeth, dentures if applicable.
7) Assisted resident to clean and dry mouth area.
8 ) Performed completion tasks.

Expert Tip by Tanya Glover, CNA

Once you pass your exam and are gainfully employed, you must keep all your skills fresh and make sure you do them properly. In the classroom it was practice; on the job you are responsible for an actual person and their belongings. Keep the following things in mind about dentures and people who wear them:

  • Clean your patient’s dentures every day, even when you feel like you do not have the time to do so. If you do not keep their teeth clean, they can suffer from built up plaque and tartar, bad breath, gum irritation and even oral yeast infections (also known as candidiasis).
  • NEVER allow your patient to sleep in their dentures! Their mouths need to breathe (no pun intended). Massaging their gums during the rest period is also a good idea to keep the blood flow good and to keep their mouths feeling healthy and comfortable.
  • I know that meal time is very busy, but once your patient has finished eating, brush their dentures. This can be done without removing them and will go a long way in keeping their dentures in top shape and ensuring that they have a happy and healthy mouth!
  • When cleaning your patient’s dentures, ALWAYS put a towel at the bottom of the sink. Those things can get slippery when wet and if they fall and hit the porcelain in the sink, the chances of them cracking are high. If you break them due to carelessness, it will end up being your responsibility to have them replaced.
  • NEVER place your patient’s dentures in a tissue and sit them on their bedside table. The housekeeping staff may come in and mistake it for a used Kleenex and toss it out, and so could anyone for that matter!

Take your time with this special piece of equipment and remember that teeth are super important!

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