Common Conditions

The Disturbing Ingredient Hidden in Your Denture Cleanser

Your denture cleaning tablets could be causing damage to your mouth and the rest of your body. The FDA has asked Efferdent, Polident, and Fixodent to stop using persulfate in their products.

by Dr. Burhenne

The Disturbing Ingredient Hidden in Your Denture Cleanser

I'm using denture cleaning tablets to clean my night guards. I'm not sure if this is the best approach. I'm getting tired of buying tablets every few months and I'm wondering if there's a more natural way of doing this. Your thoughts?

A: I used to recommend denture cleaning tablets, such as Efferdent and Polident, for cleaning Invisalign aligners, dentures, and retainers, and even used to use it myself.

Porous dental appliances can absorb the ingredients in denture cleaning tablets – meaning you’re holding those chemicals against your mouth when you wear the device.

These denture cleaning tablets work very well at cleaning but I’ve recently changed my opinion of these products.

The active ingredient persulfate is my major concern. The FDA has asked the manufacturers of Fixodent, Polident, Efferdent, and other denture cleaners to change the product labeling to include warnings about the risks of allergic reactions which could be caused by persulfates. The FDA also asked the manufacturers to consider alternate ingredients to replace persulfate.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to persulfates used in denture and retainer cleansers include…

  • Tissue Damage
  • Rashes, Hives or Irritation
  • Gum Tenderness
  • Breathing Problems
  • Low Blood Pressure

If accidentally ingested, these denture cleansers can wreak havoc on the body.

Picture this scenario: An elderly person wakes up late at night with an upset stomach and confuses an Efferdent package with an Alka Seltzer package, rips it open and dissolves it into a full glass of drinking water. He wakes up in the emergency room hours later convulsing and gasping for air.

Accidental consumption of denture and retainer cleansers can include…

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Burns
  • Bleaching of tissue
  • Blood in the Urine
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing Problems
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Seizures
  • Death

Bottom line: If you drank the stuff, it could send you to the Emergency Room. So why let your dental appliance, something that sits in your mouth for 8 hours a day or more, marinate in it?

Many of these devices are porous and can hold the persulfate against the tissues inside the mouth. Even if used as directed, I don’t think it’s wise to use these products to clean dentures, sleep apnea devices, retainers, Invisalign aligners, or anything else placed in the mouth.

How to Clean Your Night Guard Naturally

To clean your night guard (or other dental device), keep it soaking in water when it is not in your mouth. Add a squirt or two of castile soap, which doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. You can also lightly brush it with an electric toothbrush and toothpaste as needed.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

read next: How to Clean Retainers Without Harsh Chemicals

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS


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    • I do not recommend alka seltzer to clean your dental appliances. Alka seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, which are both okay in appropriate concentrations – the problem is the aspirin.

      Many people are allergic to aspirin. It has pharmacological action. It can reduce inflammation or thin your blood. People can get aspirin burns in their mouth. It is a drug with effects that you may or may not need – why expose yourself to it on a daily basis and just to clean your nightguards? Even though very little may be absorbed, it is unnecessary exposure on a daily basis.

      Use a squirt of castile soap and baking soda in water to soak your nightguards – it will do the best job of cleaning and the alkalinity in the baking soda will help protect against gum disease and bad breath.

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • I have had a horrible rash break out on my fingers that the doctors say is allergic but nothing helps..I seen something about effervescent denture cleaner causing rashes on something..then googled. Now that I’m piecing thing’s the rash started right after I got my teeth pulled and got dentures. I dont have a reation in my mouth but little sores on the ends of my fingers and hands. It was better for awhile when I used half of a generic efferdent cleaner but I got name brand overnight soak and I got blisters on my hands

  1. Okay then. So what do I use to clean my dentures. I use to smoke, now a non smoker of 5 months. I would like to get my dentures white again. I have always used efferdent. I use it every other night.

    • It DOES KILL BACTERIA!! This is a direct quote from the site listed below: “Vinegar helps to kill bacteria and prevent the build-up of calculus, also known as tartar. Brushing with vinegar reduces the risk of gingivitis, which is a major cause of tooth decay.”

  2. My dentist said to use dish washing liquid. That’s what I do. I used the tablets a few times…and my gums were terribly irritated, even though I rinsed the dentures quite thoroughly.

    BTW…I still see adhesives on the shelves that contain zinc. That’s been shown to cause neurological damage. Get only ones that clearly say ZINC FREE. They’ll get us one way or the other….

    • Zinc can cause neurological damage if not balanced with copper (as it is in most multivitamin/mineral supplements). Consuming zinc alone (and you will be consuming it if you use a denture cleanser with zinc) will cause a copper deficiency. It is the copper deficiency that causes the neurological damage.

      • I take 20 mugs zinc with dinner, daily. I have Lyme. My pain and neuropathy has worsened since I started zinc 2 weeks ago.
        I’m guessing it could be the zinc.
        I have been using polident for years to clean my mouth guard. Is it making my situation worse?

  3. Try Dr. Bronners. I have used it for just about everything from cleaning my body and hair to dishes to floors to laundry and it has many many many many other uses. It is really good pure castile soap made from simple ingredients many of them you might consume in other forms. No artificial chemicals or odd ingredients. Plus many of the ingredients are fair trade, none of them are tested on animals or made of animals and much of it is organic as well. Plus due to Emmanuel Bronner being a bit of nut, you can read parts of his religious manifesto on the side of the bottle.

    I have no doubt that this could clean dentures or night guards or what have you.Dr. Bronner’s even recommends is is a toothpaste or mouthwash, though I tried it once and didn’t find it quite so good.

  4. Mother just got dentures October 26 of 2011…I am very interested in your research. Especially the chocolate thing for me. She is not happy with her new teeth and I would like to hear what other information you have on these subjects. I’m really scared about my teeth since a few of them are getting small gaps at the gum line. No insurance either. Suggestions? Yours truley, Tina

    • My dentisturist said if people would use baking soda to brush teeth with gum problems it would stop the disease.

  5. Tina, gaps in your teeth next to the gumming can be sign of gum disease which if left untreated can not only cause you to lose teeth, but has systemic links as well. Go to a dentist, and get your exam and gum therapy routinely.

  6. Mark Burhenne- I can’t find any proof of your credentials.

    There is no real proof that you have the credentials that you document you have.

    Please prove it.

    • All you have to do is google Mark Burhenne DDS and there is plenty of proof. His office phone number and location in Sunnydale, CA is clearly found if you search with google so enough with the prove it crap and grow a brain.

  7. Also, this
    “To clean your night guard (or other dental device), keep it soaking in water when it is not in your mouth and lightly brush it with an electric toothbrush and toothpaste as needed. ” is wrong

    If he’s including dentures in this, which I’m assuming he is by “other dental device” he’s severely wrong. My dentist and just about anyone I know with dentures will tell you DO NOT brush your dentures with toothpaste. It’s abrasive and will cause damage to your denture….and the electric toothbrush ?? Really?? Most just say a soft bristled tooth brush?

  8. I just stumbled upon this page. I use efferdent to clean my juicer. The carrot juice really stains the juicer. I’m concerned how clean it gets, not just the stain, but bacteria. No soap gets is really clean. So I tried soaking it in efferdent overnight, then rinsing it in the morning with super hot water and then final rinse with cold water.

    Do you think that efferdent would be safe for this purpose?

    • No tablet denture cleaners have a harmful ingredient called persulfates. They can cause allergic reactions among other things. Just got to the American Dental Associations site for mor info. Search under denters clensers or persulfates and see for yourself

      • Hello, I am reading on this site and you said that no denture cleaner contains the product called PERSULFATES; well you are wrong with that subject cause it says it on the box that it contains this ingredient PERSULFATES, which may cause allergic reactions; in case of accidental ingestion!! So where did you get your information from, cause it sure wasn’t from the box of efferdent – anti-bacterial denture cleaner!

        • In response to whether or not efferdent is safe, I think he forgot the comma and meant to say “No, tablet denture cleaners have a harmful ingredient called persulfates” as in “No, it isn’t safe, tablet denture cleaners have a harmful ingredient called persulfates”.

          • Then, what denture cleanser is safe to use? Do they make anything that is safe? My husband has been using these tablets since he has had his dentures and nothing has happened to them. If these are not safe, then they need to take them off the market or take that harmful ingredient out of the product!

    • If you spray carrot stains with PAM or other no stick, (after each use, before cleaning it up), the oils will break down the stains. Carotene is oil based and will dissolve with the PAM, but not completely with just soap and water.

  9. I entered Top Care Denture Cleanser Tablets searching for ingredients on the package as there are none. I have been using Polident for years and it lists over 20 ingredients.
    Interesting though, the Top Care box states that it is not manufactured or distributed by Block Co., Inc., distributor of Polident.
    So, what’s in it? Isn’t is illegal to sell products of this nature without stating what’s in it?

  10. I got my 1st set of dentures in November. In January I was suddenly hit with weird, extremly painful swellings and rashes on my feet, ankles and lower legs. The swellings acted very much like gout or hives. After 4 months of suffering and many doctor visits & tests with no answers, I finally stumbled on the info about denture cleanser allergy with persulfate. I had been told since childhood that I was allergic to sulpha drugs and now wonder the link? I stopped using the denture cleanser tablets and my problems all cleared up. YEAH!!

  11. My grandmother left a chunk of polydent in the porcelian sink, she said she used it because it removes all the stains! This alarmed me, so I looked at the ingredients, it also contains sodium nitrate! That ended her use of it. SHe also has had breathing problems for years.

    • have an upper denture for 4 yrs. always used effordent w whitening. the padt yr I had developed gum problems including caterizing the gum lately increased in gum idsues in general . which I never experienced.prior to and slways had healthy gums my upper denture has been chipping while in my mouth anf the back teeth are nearly gome.could this be linked to tje said cleaner

  12. My tongue has is bothering me and the roof of my mouth, my tongue looks like it has cracks all over it……could this be from the denture tablet? I only have upper dentures.

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  14. I just cleaned my night guard with a denture cleaning that contains persulfate. I did this before reading the caution part of the box. I immediately removed it and rinsed it with hot water. I am worried because I have allergic and intolerances to many things. Does the persulfate rinse away? How do I remove it. I do not want to use my night guard until I know it does not have this nasty persulfate still on it. help please:)

    • The easiest and most effective way to rid you of toxins is to use a antibacterial soap and clean throughly. That doesn’t mean brush madly for hours; simply use hot water and gently rub the soap in and rinse. Consider this fact; the ingredient that’s AT TIMES, FOR SOME PEOPLE, who are alergic, CAN cause problems. I’m alergic to sulfa which is in some antibiotics. It’s directly linked to the main chemical being discussed. I used the persulfate tablets AS DIRECTED ( rinse throughly and do not put tablets in mouth) for years without any problems. To be cautious of any accidental use, I discontinued using them. Never assume that you have an allery.

  15. Dear Doc
    I am experiencing very strange symptoms which I am attributing to what could be the cleansing of my dental appliance in Efferdent. I have had facial rashes, tingling sensations in my arms severe anxiety and oral lesions which appear red and subside in a couple days. Over I feel ill. Could this be the culprit?

  16. My mother,age 90 in 3 weeks, has dentures. I have used her Pollident overnight whitening tablets to soak my nightguard. She was using the one that was zinc free before. I don’t know if this box was since the top us riped off. My question now is I have developed tender red skin on inside if cheeks, swollen glands, headache and sore throat. Where my night guard touches my skin infront at cheeks very painful. I have been rinseing with baking soda. Would you please reply
    Thank You Teri

  17. I just had new dentures made, not my first set. Denturist sold me a bottle of Denture Brite. For some reason, I read what ingrediantes were in it. Luckly for me as it contained persulphates and such, I am very allergic to sulpates. Will get in touch with denturist in morning about the findings.

    Very happy I found your site in researching RENEW Denture cleaner, as bottle does not show ingrediants. I am a senior and all your stories should be passed on to to others young and old.

  18. I just like the valuable information you provide for your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and test once more right here frequently.
    I’m somewhat certain I’ll learn many new stuff proper here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  19. I started using denture cleanser when my last lower set of partials were made. One Friday evening, my tongue started to swell and I ended up in the ER. Angioedema. Required some EPI, Benedryl, and steroid. I continued using the cleanser and about a year and a half later, the swelling events started again. Saw an allergist and we tested just about all foods plus for hereditary AE. No reactions. One day, reading up on AE, one possible cause stated was dental trauma. The acrylic plastic was a possibility, since it contains a carcinogen. I did not wear the partial for over a week, except when I had to bite and chew, but I still had an event. Then I remembered soaking the partial in cleanser. I now soak in plain water. No events for 2 weeks now.

  20. Hi there, My husband has heart disease and subsequently always has plaque buildup on his teeth. Plus, he doesn’t like to brush. I made a toothpaste with 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 Tablespoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon raw honey ( anti- bacterial) and a couple drops of cinnamon oil ( as he doesn’t like mint) stir it together. use a spoon ( sanitary purposes) to get the paste onto your brush. He used it once, and it cleaned all of the gunk off of his teeth, and his dentist wanted the recipie. If you want whitening as well, add a couple drops of hydrogen peroxide and stir some more. Store in the fridge as the coconut is liquid in warm temps. I have full dentures, I make a blend of 5 parts baking soda to 1 part of citric acid, stir well, store in an airtight jar, and use a pinch or two in my cup after washing my teeth with Dr. Bronners castile soap. Works fabulous!

  21. Hello Dr. Burheene,

    I think I have experienced a bad reaction to using a cleanser with persulfates while cleaning my night guard. My palate and tongue got very irritated and inflamed right after I began using these to start cleaning my night guard. I since have stopped (last time I used one was about two weeks ago), my mouth is finally starting to feel better. How long until I expect my mouth to get back to normal and is there anything that I can do that will help me, it has been very difficult to talk with my palate being so irritated. Also I am worried that my night guard is not contaminated and I am concerned about using it again.

    Thank You

  22. This site has been very informative for me. Especially in the comments section. Thanks to everyone who has given great info. I use the denture cleanser that Walmart makes and it does have a warning that it contains the persulfates. And should you ingest it to call a poison control center. I throwed them away. I will be using the castile soap from now on. The zinc was taken out of the adhesives, why can’t the persulfates be taken out of the cleansers? Thanks everyone.

  23. Confusing! The manufacturer for my mouth guard, Somnodent strictly forbids the use of toothpaste. So, how does this jive with what you’re saying?

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