Can I Wear Dentures During Surgery?

| March 24, 2013 | 26 Comments

Patients will often ask, “Can I wear my dentures during my surgery and general anesthesia?”

Every patient is unique. Removing dentures may feel like a minor inconvenience to some and a real personal, emotional issue for others. Some feel uncomfortable removing them in front of close family members or even their spouses.

If you are having general anesthesia, you will be asked to remove your dentures. This is because they can become a safety hazard once you are “asleep”. Your anesthesiologist will secure your airway once your are under anesthesia, which means they will likely place a breathing tube or an LMA (laryngeal mask airway).

In the process of doing this, the dentures may become loose, obstruct the airway, and/or generally get in the way of managing the airway. This is obviously a very important issue.

Also, there is a chance of the dentures getting damaged or misplaced if they are left in place and then need to be urgently removed in the operating room.

Most medical centers will provide patients with a plastic container for the purpose of securing and storing the dentures during the surgical period. If a patient is sensitive about family members seeing them without dentures, they can remove them AFTER saying their “See you later” to family members. It can then be requested that no family members be allowed to see the patient after surgery is completed until their dentures are given back.

The physicians, nurses, and surgical technicians that work in the operating room take care of patients with dentures frequently and treat them with the same dignity and respect they treat all patients.

In conclusion, if you wear dentures, you will likely be asked to remove them if you are having a general anesthetic.

If this is a sensitive issue for you, please talk to your surgical team so that they can give you the privacy you may need prior to removing the dentures.

Please share your questions and concerns in the comments section below.

I look forward to hearing from you and wish you a safe and smooth perioperative experience.


Dr. Dave

What General Anesthesia Side Effect have you experienced, if any?

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Category: Anesthesia Topics, Day of surgery, General Anesthesia, operating room

Comments (26)

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  1. Lynn says:

    Thank you for your info above. I am more worried about the removal of my dentures than my gall bladder! But you have made me feel slightly better. Thank you

    • David Draghinas says:

      You are very welcome, Lynn.

      I am glad our information could provide a little bit of comfort for you. I am praying you have a safe and smooth surgical experience.

      Dr. Dave

  2. KnR says:

    How can they say it is a safety issue in case they chip a tooth of your denture that you might swallow it. They can chip a natural tooth and that can be swallowed too, so what is your excuse there? My health issues are my business and having dentures is nobody elses business, but after being put out and they forcibly removed my glues in dentures they damaged my gums. If I glue my teeth in they are in for 3+ days and aren’t going anywhere until the adhesive gives and I glue my in to eat the day before surgery so they can only be foricibly removed. If I were married my spouse would never see me without my teeth. As it is now only my parents know I have dentures and that is because after an accident where I got hit in the mout they offered to pay to get my teeth fixed. I got mine in 1999 and wear them 24/7, except to clean or soak them and my significant other has no idea I wear them, unless someone went through my purse saw the adhesive. It is nobody’s business, but one time I had surgery and the rude nurse came back in front of everyone, including other patients and wanted me to answer her questions. I already told them I do not speak without my teeth in. But in front of other patients and their familes she yelled, “Here’s your teeth”. Everyone in the recovery room turned to look at who was getting their teeth. Since when did it become common practice to violate patients privacy rights. One of the other patients guests who overheard and knew some people I knew told everyone I had dentures. That was my business, nobody elses. that is why they call them natural looking dentures. They should made a tooth guard for dentures so people can have them in (only if affixed wth adhesive) during surgery.

    • Joe Jackson says:

      Hi there,

      I am sorry you had a terrible experience. There is no other way to put it. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as a patient.

      We will use your experience to better take care of our patients in the future. I will be very mindful of how patients with dentures may feel about removing them in front of family members. And also discussing the dentures at all.

      Thanks for sharing your story with us. I hope that your next experience is much better.

    • sara norvell says:

      The safety issue comes with the fact that once we as anesthesia providers push sedative hypnotics (frequently Propofol) even your well glued teeth come out. Also denture teeth have 1/10th the strength of regular teeth and thus even more susceptible to breaking . In addition , even if the individual teeth do not break the denture can become displaced into the airway causing potential soft tissue damage and/or cause problems with airway management . The priority is your safety.

      • Brian says:

        It has nothing to do with ‘safety’ because there’s less chance of a plastic tooth being chipped than a brittle natural one. It’s control creamery on the part of the anaesthetist.

      • Brian says:

        For reasons I won’t bore anyone with, I once had to remove my mother’s upper denture, and you can take it from me that denture fixatives definitely work! Also there is NO WAY a rubberised intubating tube can fracture a denture So I say again – it’s control freakery.

        • David Draghinas says:

          Hi Brian,

          Thanks for your comment.

          One issue is damaging the denture. The bigger risk of damage doesn’t come from the plastic endotracheal tube. It comes from the metal laryngoscope blade that is utilized for intubation.

          Secondly, there is the issue of the denture obstructing the airway. This is our bigger concern.

          All the best,

          Dr Dave

    • Kirsty all says:

      Your teeth probably are in for 3 to 4 days if you glue them! But then you have spit to help keep them in place! That’s pretty limited when you’ve been fasting all day..

      They never said anything about chipping the denture … What they said was that it could cause an obstruction when they are putting a breath tube in…

      If you wasn’t happy to speak without your teeth then you should have said something before … By you saying I’m not happy to talk without my teeth in you basically told the whole room anyway…

  3. pkaufman1127 says: this has no relevance to safety. it is all about caring about the patience and/or the patient’s concerns. if leaving dentures in the mouth is unsafe then by all means take them out. However keep them with the patient. Do not let anyone see the patient without his/her denture/s. if it is deemed to difficult to keep the denture/s from being lost or broken, please consult a special education teacher. He/she can show service providers how to keep those two things from happening. It is not rocket science. Forcing a person to expose themselves to others without their denture is mean, demeaning, and belittling to the one who is suffering the consequences of the unnecessary and uncaring rules of persons who have no care for the patient/s..

    • Sara says:

      Actually it is a safety issue for the above reasons… I myself will not ask the patient to remove them until they are about to go off to sleep. There are documented cases of teeth / dentures lost into the airway.. It’s not done to humiliate the patient

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Penny,

      There are two different things at play here.

      Dentures need to be removed for most cases where a breathing device is going to be placed. This is for the patient’s safety, as well as to protect the dentures from damage.

      If a patient does not feel comfortable removing dentures in front of family, then we simply have them remove the dentures only when we are in the operating room. Then dentures are placed in a container and stay with the patient until they are awake enough to place them back in their mouth in the recovery room (before any family/friends sees them again).

      We need to do what’s safe for the patient and also try to be sensitive to the patient’s exposure re: dentures. Thanks for your comment.

      Dr Dave

      • Penny Kaurfmann says:

        Dr Dave appears to be a compassionate physician who cares for the well being of his patients. Unfortunately, a great many (most?) anesthesia providers to not share his concern. In my last experience (April, 2015) My anesthesia providers were Doc Ratchet & Igor. My concerns were none of theirs. I was made fun of. I didn’t mind removing my denture for surgery, but I did and do mind doing so in front of my husband. I don’t want anyone outside of the absolutely necessary surgical team to see me without my denture. I certainly don’t want to talk without it either. Dr. R & I ensured that they subjected me to everything that I told them I did not want to happen. Igor laughed & said that I’d never know anyway, so they could do anything. and they did. After surgery I was paraded through the hospital hallways to my room without my dentures. I was made to speak my name & date of birth without my denture. I was made to remove my denture for my husband to hold during surgery. These things will never, ever happen again.

        These things had nothing to do with safety. I know something of the requirements that a person must meet to be part of a surgical team, and stupidity is not part of them. Losing a denture? Give me a break. Dropping a denture? Sounds like they hire the three stooges. No. Of course that is not the case. The truth is that patients’ concerns do not matter. They are most likely a great source of hilarity & mirth that they enjoy while the patient is unconscious & defenseless.

        I am still traumatized. I will never, ever subject myself to this again. At least some anesthesia people are mean & cruel, and even the chance of being at their mercy again is totally unacceptable.

        • David Draghinas says:


          I am sorry you had such a horrible experience. With this particular issue, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be safe (removing the dentures) but doing so in such a way that provides the patient with the amount of privacy and modesty that they need.

          Dr Dave

  4. Shirley says:

    I have fixed dentures on implants on the lower….the upper are also implants with a bar screwed in supporting a removeable denture held by clips similar to a magnet…..I will be on a heart lung machine for my valve repair or replacement….will I need to remove my upper denture to have the tube inserted down my throat????

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Shirley,

      That will depend on your anesthesiologist. My guess is it will depend on how movable (or not) the dentures are.

      Best of luck to you,

      Dr Dave

  5. Debbi P says:

    What if you are going to be under a lighter anesthesia and not intubated? Is it still necessary to remove a partial? Does it matter if it is a temporary or permanent partial?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Debbi.

      Ultimately, it’s up to your anesthesiologist. Some of the things he/she will consider: how loose/secure is the denture, what kind of procedure is being done (does it involve the airway), etc

      For example, I may allow a patient to keep dentures in place for colonoscopy (but not for an upper endoscopy).

      All the best,

      Dr Dave

  6. John says:

    Have been practicing as a cardiac/transplant/general anesthesiologist for 12 years in a large group. Have seen at least 4 cases (none of mine) where 1. the partial ended up in the trachea and was visualized under Fluoro for an EP procedure. Subsequently Pulmonologist removed it, 2. During the process of intubation partial fell in the back of mouth and with each attempt proceeded to advance deeper towards the vocal cords till it was removed – potential for death as ventilating patient cased partial to move further, and in 2 other cases the dentures just fell out in the back of the mouth during sedation cases with patients coughing violently during surgery. Don’t take a chance with your life for an elective procedure. Respect is due to all patients and can be taken care of easily but recovery from a catastrophic event like respiratory arrest followed by cardiac arrest because of dentures is hard to recover from.

  7. Kevin Bergin says:

    I am having keyhole surgery on monday for a hiatus hernia in my upper stomach. My question is during the general anaesthetic will my dental implants and bridges be ok? They can’t be removed.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Implants should be ok. Anything that is removable, however, should be removed prior to inducing general anesthesia.

  8. Mary ann says:

    I used adhesive on my dentures and actually have a hard time breaking the seal. So would it be safe to leave in for a 20 minute colonoscopy?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Likely safe, if they are only doing a colonoscopy (and not an upper endoscopy as well). But it’s ultimately up to the discretion of your anesthesiologist and what he/she thinks is safe.

      Dr Dave

  9. jeanette says:

    I have to have a lupectomy as I read early good idea to take dentures out. What about contacts.

    • David Draghinas says:

      It’s a good idea to remove contact before general anesthesia.

      As a part of the preoperative process, you will likely be asked if you are wearing contact lenses. If you are, you will be asked to have them removed.

      Dr Dave

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