If you read detailed denture care instructions, you will come across the restriction that you shouldn’t soak dentures in mouthwash containing alcohol or use isopropyl alcohol to clean your dentures. But what about regular drinking alcohol? Will it damage your dentures?

It’s unlikely, but there are other reasons why you might consider limiting your alcohol consumption when you are wearing dentures.

Alcohol and Acrylics

The base material used for modern dentures is polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Acrylics are not water soluble, but they are soluble in alcohol. It doesn’t cause your dentures to dissolve, however: it makes tiny cracks (described as crazing) that lead to structural weakness.

There’s a lot of debate about this online (consider, for example, this thread where stoners are trying to ease the fears of someone who cleaned his acrylic bong with alcohol ), but perhaps the most dramatic demonstration comes from this video showing how isopropyl alcohol causes a piece of plexiglass to immediately crack under tension. What’s important to note about the video is that you can’t see the cracks at all until the plexiglass fails catastrophically.

This means that exposure to isopropyl alcohol could put your dentures at risk of fracture, especially under imbalanced forces in the mouth.

Not All Alcohols Are the Same

But it’s important to make a distinction between the type of alcohol used in the video (isopropyl alcohol) and the type of alcohol you drink (ethanol). Ethanol is a lot less harmful to PMMA than isopropyl alcohol is.

Also important is the concentration of alcohol and the length of exposure. A 30% alcohol solution (60 proof) will lightly attack PMMA, but a 10% alcohol solution will have no effect, especially if the contact is brief. So the guideline of not soaking in a mouthwash which often has an alcohol level as high as 25%, is good, but shouldn’t be taken to mean that drinking alcohol is going to damage your dentures. This study also shows that it shouldn’t damage your soft liner , either.

But Alcohol Can Cause Other Symptoms

However, people with dentures may experience other negative effects from drinking a lot of alcohol. There are many reports of people experiencing significant denture pain in their lower gums associated with alcohol. It seems like it’s more common among people who have had significant bone loss. If you experience this, the only solution is probably to cut down on alcohol consumption.

This may also protect you from getting a DUI due to your dentures, too.

If you have more questions about taking proper care of your dentures, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.