The popular image of leaving your dentures to soak by your bed as you sleep is one you should aspire to. Unfortunately, it can be tempting to leave dentures in your mouth overnight. You may feel too tired to take them out and soak them, or you may simply dislike the feeling of not having teeth in your mouth.

Unfortunately, you run several risks by sleeping without your dentures in. Here are just a few.

Accelerated Bone Loss

Bone reabsorption is a common problem with dentures, which is one reason why dental implants are becoming more popular. Essentially, reabsorption involves a decrease in bone density and volume. Placing pressure on the gums transfers pressure to the bone below, and this can accelerate bone loss. If you wear your dentures 24 hours a day, there will be no respite from that pressure.

Denture Stomatitis

As you might have guessed, denture stomatitis is an issue only faced by denture wearers. It’s a type of infection caused by candida, the same fungus responsible for thrush and athlete’s foot. When it develops in the mouth, it is known as denture stomatitis, and it’s a common consequence of sleeping with dentures in. Saliva production decreases at night, so it’s easy for candida to multiply and spread. Soaking your dentures overnight instead of leaving them in robs the fungus of a place to thrive.

Pneumonia

You might not think a condition as potentially serious as pneumonia could occur simply because you sleep with your dentures in, but you’d be wrong. Research suggests that those who wear their dentures at night are twice as likely to develop pneumonia. This is thought to be because it’s easier for the bacteria that causes pneumonia to thrive around dentures that aren’t soaked in a cleaning agent each night. That bacteria can spread from mouth to lungs as you breathe, potentially leading to pneumonia.

Choking

Finally, keep in mind that one of your dentures may come loose during the night. Modern dentures can be made to fit very well, but it’s still possible they might come out. If they do, you could very well end up choking on them as you sleep.