Denture Stomatitis

I see patients on a daily basis who are unaware of the importance of taking their dentures out at night. I can tell straightaway which patients leave their dentures in all the time. Tissues are red, swollen, and angry. I try to get them to imagine walking around 24/7 with their shoes and socks on, going to the gym, stuffing some food in their shoes while walking around a little longer, a day, a week, a month……. One can only imagine how that would feel and smell!!! One’s mouth is no different. But the serious implications of this is still very much unknown to my clients – Denture Stomatitis, Candidiasis aka thrush, cancer all associated with lack of oral hygiene and oral care.

Patients must take out their dentures every night and clean their gums with a soft toothbrush, if using adhesive, remove it all from the tissues of your gums and palate. Clean your dentures with liquid soapy warm water over a wet towel or sink full of water in case they fall in. Steep dentures in water over night. Use a disinfectant tablet no more than 15 min, twice a week. Do not use products with high contents of bleach and never use toothpaste to clean your denture as this scratches the surface allowing stains, calculus, and bacteria to grow and live.

What is denture stomatitis?

Denture stomatitis (or oral stomatitis) is usually caused by candida — a type of fungus (yeast). It’s normal to have small amounts of candida in your mouth. But when there’s an imbalance, the candida can grow out of control, resulting in a fungal infection. Stomatitis caused by candida is also commonly referred to as thrush.

Who does denture stomatitis affect?

As the name suggests, people who wear dentures may be at risk of developing denture stomatitis. The condition can also affect

  • People with diabetes.
  • Those with poor oral health.
  • Individuals who take steroids by mouth or through an inhaler.
  • People undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Those taking certain medications, such as wide-spectrum antibiotics and corticosteroids.

What does denture stomatitis look like?

People with denture stomatitis may notice redness, irritation or swelling in the mouth, especially on the palate (roof of the mouth). Thrush — which looks like light-colored patches — may appear on the gums, lips, inner cheeks, tongue and palate. Some people develop cracking at the corners of the mouth, known as angular cheilitis.

How common is denture stomatitis?

Denture stomatitis is one of the most common conditions affecting denture wearers. Research studies have shown that the condition affects up to 70% of denture wearers. Statistically, people who wear full dentures are more likely to develop the condition than those who wear partial dentures.

Symtoms and Causes

People with denture stomatitis may develop varying symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • Pain or discomfort when swallowing.
  • Soreness in the mouth or throat.
  • White or red patches on the tongue, gums, lips, inner cheeks or roof of mouth.
  • Sores or cracks in the corners of the mouth.

What causes denture-related stomatitis?

There are several factors that can result in the development of denture stomatitis. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Wearing your dentures for prolonged periods of time (such as while you sleep).
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol use.
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age (the condition occurs more often in people ages 65 or older).
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Endocrine dysfunction.
  • Immunosuppression.

Is denture stomatitis contagious?

Not usually. Denture-related stomatitis isn’t contagious in people who aren’t already at risk. However, those who are prone to oral thrush can develop the condition if candida is passed to them.

How do you treat denture stomatitis?

There are a few different treatment options for people with oral stomatitis:

  • Anti-fungal treatment: The first line of defence is usually anti-fungal medication, such as nystatin or miconazole. These medications are often given as lozenges. In some cases, you may be prescribed anti-fungal ointments to reduce your symptoms
  • Laser therapy: Your dentist may use low-energy laser therapy to treat oral stomatitis, especially when anti-fungal medications don’t work.
  • Surgical removal: Some patients develop small nodules on the roof of their mouth. This can interfere with your denture and prevent it from fitting properly. In these cases, your dentist may perform minor surgery to remove those nodules.

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