Procedure #2 - Removing black mold from dentures

Procedure #2 Indications: Certain kinds of black mold can cause serious physical and mental problems, so it is important to do something when black areas are found on dentures. Mold spores are everywhere and can start a growth colony wherever food and moisture are present. Many such places exist in dentures where adjacent teeth tightly butt one another at the gum line. Neither brushing nor flossing can clean out food and moisture at the bottoms of such pockets. A few mold spores in such pockets soon become colonies infecting larger areas. When dentures have any dark areas, prompt prophylaxis is indicated.

Procedure #2 Details

The recommended procedure to get rid of mold infection has two parts, as follows:

First, show your infected dentures to a medical doctor for his or her diagnosis. In my case the doctor immediately confirmed infection by a black mold. He prescribed Nystatin, a liquid suspension to be sloshed in the mouth three times a day for 31 days. Because Nystatin was formulated specifically to kill molds infecting a person, its use is likely to be the first step in eliminating a mold infection. If a medication with a different name is prescribed, substitute that name accordingly in the instructions which follow.

Second, clean the mold from your dentures. This may be easy or difficult or impossible according to the type of mold present. Thousands of types exist. The following recommended procedure starts with the easiest things which sometimes work and progresses to those which are more difficult and possibly even harmful to the dentures. Start when Nystatin or other anti-mold medication is started, or earlier. Try these in any order, depending on what supplies you might already have on hand. When any of the following cleaning methods do not produce good results in two days, try another. Determine "good results" by examining the dentures with a magnifying glass in good light. If you see any dark areas, however small, that's not good enough. A single mold spore is enough to grow into a colony.

When a successful cleaning process has been found, repeat it every few days at least until the Nystatin (or equivalent medication ) is used up. Repetition is necessary even though the dentures may be totally cleaned each time because mold in the mouth can recontaminate them. Decontamination of mouth and dentures must progress together until both are free of mold.


Cleaning methods to try in any order are:

1 - Try brushing after each meal and snack with the tooth brush and paste you have been using, but brush along the length of the crevices between the teeth. Brushing across them is useless because the bristles do not touch the bottom of the crevices near the gum. Push firmly in an effort to force bristles to the bottom while moving back and forth.

2 - Try a stiffer brush. CVS brand "firm" type is stiff, durable and economical.

3 - Try a more abrasive paste. Consumer Reports, August 1998, pages 11-14 provides some information on many brands. These change a lot every year, so read fine print on the box.

4 - If you do not already use a commercial stain-removing product for dentures such as Efferdent, Polident or CVS Denture Cleanser, try any one. They are similar, though not identical. Instructions on the Efferdent package, for instance, allow bathing of dentures overnight and suggest brushing with the Efferdent solution. Then rinse with plain water. To these instructions I would add brushing with the solution before an overnight bath as well as after, so as to work the solution into the bottoms of pockets between adjacent teeth.

5 - Try a spray-on spot remover intended for laundry. Spray ‘n Wash, for example, contains enzymes which destroy most stains on cloth in one to five minutes, but it does not fade "colorfast" printed designs. The product is designed to spray onto stained areas on cloth, but I easily dribbled it onto dentures by pressing the feed lever slowly. It has the consistency of honey. After spreading the product over the dentures and brushing it into the crevices between the teeth, wait an hour and then flush and brush it off.

I could not test its efficiency in removing mold because my dentures had already been cleaned by another method. However, the spot remover did not cause any detectable fading of the pink "gum" areas so even longer exposure times might be tried. If a laundry spot-remover works, it would be economical, convenient and non-hazardous.

6 - Because some enzymes work best on living protein matter and others work best on non-living matter, if suggestions #4 and #5 above did not work, boil the dentures 15 minutes to kill the spores and try again.

7 - Try cleaning with Nystatin and then soaking the dentures in it overnight. The reason for not suggesting this sooner is that it is more expensive than any of the foregoing and more of a nuisance because it is available only by prescription. Even though Nystatin is designed to kill a variety of black molds, that is not the same as cleaning the dead mold stuck on the dentures, so it sometimes does not work with dentures "as is" or after boiling to kill the spores. Information supplied by the manufacturer of Nystatin and published on page 1212 of the Complete Drug Reference [Consumer Reports Books, 1996] says:

"Patients with full or partial dentures may need to soak their dentures nightly in Nystatin for oral suspension to eliminate fungus from the dentures. In rare cases when this does not eliminate the fungus, it may be necessary to have new dentures made" (emphasis added).

This is a written admission that the manufacturer of Nystatin did not find a cleaning method which always worked! Having new dentures made even once is a very expensive "solution" to the problem. If Nystatin and other means suggested above fail to clean your dentures, don't trash them and replace them just yet. Instead, go to the next step.

8 - As a last resort, try boiling the dentures fifteen minutes to kill the mold and then bathe them in a homemade enzyme bath. It worked for me when everything else I tried did not. See details following:

How to Prepare and Use the Enzyme Bath

1 - Add 2 heaping tablespoons of Sears Ultra Plus Laundry Detergent to 12 ounces of water. Note: This detergent was chosen because it contains an enzyme to break down and dissolve stains. Other brands may also work if they have a stain-removing enzyme. Do not use the Sears laundry detergent which has no enzyme.

2 - Stir a few minutes and skim off scum which rises to the surface. Keep stirring and skimming till no more scum appears.

3 - Pour the solution through several layers of cloth (such as a folded corner of a dish towel) to strain out any scum and undissolved particles of the detergent. Put it into a container with an opening big enough to accommodate the dentures. A wide-mouth container such as a 28 ounce peanut butter jar is convenient

4 - Brush the dentures with the solution to make sure it wets every deep pocket.

5 - Immediately immerse them in the detergent solution. Position them vertically, side by side, with the front teeth on top and the back of the dentures on the bottom. They should not lie on the bottom in a horizontal attitude because air pockets in cavities on the underside would prevent the fluid from contacting the dentures at such areas.

6 - After four hours, brush and rinse the dentures with clean water to remove all the detergent. The previously dark areas should now be clean.

Warning Concerning the Enzyme Bath

The enzyme bath cleaned the black mold on my dentures but it also lightened the pink "gum" areas a little. I will use the enzyme bath again if mold infection occurs and nothing else works. A lighter pink color is far less serious than trashing my dentures and paying for new ones.


Other Cleaning Methods

Because the best way to eliminate mold infection depends on the kind of mold, it is possible that what did not work for me might work for you. The following additional two methods should be considered if nothing else works.

1 - Soaking in hydrogen peroxide for an hour and then brushing with hydrogen peroxide, as suggested by a druggist, didn't work for me. Perhaps my bottle of hydrogen peroxide was stale? No, not likely, because a fresh bottle also didn't work.

2 - Soaking the dentures in a mixture of one part Clorox and fifteen parts water, followed by vigorous brushing with the same mixture, seemed to get the dentures clean. I tried that because an Internet article recommended it for cleaning certain dangerous black molds growing on moist wood. Though the dentures appeared to be clean, they soon developed black areas again. For that reason, and because Clorox is an acid strong enough to require rubber gloves to protect the hands, I suggest it only as a last resort. In hindsight, I think the dentures were probably clean, and that re-infection originated from spores in the air or from spores in my mouth, because the Nystatin had not yet completed its work.


Deter Future Mold Contamination

To deter future contamination of dentures with black mold, brush them and immerse them in water when not in use. This is probably better than brushing them and storing them in either open air or a covered container. Why? Because moisture will remain for a few minutes on the dentures, especially in the deep pockets and crevices, and it may trap spores floating around in the air. This would be enough to start the growth of another colony. But if the dentures are kept in a covered container filled with water, the chance of spores landing on the dentures and contaminating them is greatly reduced.

Although a person can be infected with mold spores anywhere, one can take precautionary measures at home. The most common infections with black mold originate in wet wood and wood products such as prestwood and plywood used in building houses. Confined areas wetted by leaks when it rains will grow black mold. It is important to fix the leaks and remove the moldy wood, although small areas can be chemically treated. For areas up to a few square feet, "paint" the areas with a mixture of 1 part Clorox and 15 parts water. Apply generously with a broad brush and let dry. The dead mold won't do any harm. It can be scraped off if desired. Wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling it.

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