Dentures are a safe and healthy way to restore proper function to your mouth when you’ve lost several or all of your teeth. While dentures can be worn with very few consequences, there are some health problems that can stem from wearing them. Today, we’ll discuss one of those health problems: Denture stomatitis.
What is denture stomatitis?
Stomatitis is an inflammation of the mouth and lips – it can be caused by any number of different health problems. Denture stomatitis is any stomatitis caused by dentures – and in about 90% of cases, denture stomatitis is caused by a yeast known as candida.
In other words, in most cases, denture stomatitis is a yeast infection in the mouth caused, in part, by wearing dentures.
Why do dentures cause stomatitis?
Unpolished denture surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for candida, and any number of other bacteria, yeasts, and microorganisms. That’s why it’s so important to carefully clean your dentures on a regular basis and why you should speak with your denturist at least once a year (and preferably twice a year) to ensure that you don’t have any denture-related oral health problems.
What are the symptoms of denture stomatitis?
Denture stomatitis can manifest with a number of different systems. You may have denture stomatitis if you have:
- Soreness in the mouth or throat
- Red or white spots or patches on the tongue, gums, lips, inner cheeks, or the roof of your mouth, especially beneath your dentures
- Sores and cracks in the corners of your mouth
- Bad breath
- Dentures that no longer fit properly
- Dry mouth
- Discomfort while swallowing
This isn’t a complete list of all the symptoms you may see – just the most common ones. You may notice that these symptoms can manifest with a number of oral health problems – the red or white spots are the most significant sign that you might have denture stomatitis. If you have any of the above symptoms, however, you should visit your denturist.
What are the risk factors for denture stomatitis?
There are a number of things that can increase your risk of developing denture stomatitis – avoiding these risk factors will help you decrease your risk of oral health problems. These risk factors include:
- Wearing your dentures for extended periods of time – especially while sleeping
- Drinking alcohol
- Nutritional deficiencies
- The use of certain medications (including broad-spectrum antibiotics)
- Your diet (candida feeds on sugars – a diet of carbohydrates and sugars can increase your risk)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Age (denture stomatitis tends to affect people who are 65 years old or older)
A number of other risk factors, like immunosuppression, can also increase your chances of getting denture stomatitis. When you first get your dentures, talk to your denturist about the risk factors for denture stomatitis and other denture-related illnesses. They’ll go over your oral health history and give you a better idea of what might put you at risk.
How is denture stomatitis treated?
Fortunately, treatment for denture stomatitis is straightforward and carries relatively few risks. In fact, many mild cases of denture stomatitis will go away on their own with proper denture care and oral health care.
In some cases, however, your dentist or denturist will recommend a variety of different treatments. The most common treatment for denture stomatitis is antifungals – they usually come in the form of lozenges or ointment. Antifungals are often a safe, effective, fast, and affordable way of treating denture stomatitis for most.
If antifungals aren’t an option, or antifungals you’ve been prescribed aren’t doing the trick, laser therapy is another option. Finally, some patients develop painful nodules – minor surgery may be necessary to remove these nodules and reduce pain, but this is rare.
How do you prevent denture stomatitis?
Denture stomatitis is relatively simple to prevent – the key is to lower your risk of developing the illness by avoiding the risk factors we mentioned earlier in this article. It’s not always easy for patients to change their habits, whether that means smoking cessation or adjusting their diet.
Fortunately, the main risk factors are a bit easier to change – how long you wear your dentures and how well you clean them.
The most important thing to remember is to take out your dentures before you sleep and to allow them to soak in a cleaning solution overnight. This limits the amount of contact your dentures can have with the candida that lives in your mouth naturally and cleans off any excess candida that may have taken up residence on your dentures.
Oral hygiene and denture care are the other two key ways of reducing your risk of denture stomatitis. We’ve developed a resource on caring for dentures that can help you learn the basics – and help you avoid denture stomatitis. We also highly recommend you talk to your dentist and denturist to ensure proper care for your unique circumstances.
With dentures, oral hygiene can vary – even people with complete upper and lower dentures should still brush their gums twice a day to maintain their oral health. Teeth should be brushed twice a day and flossed daily, and implants should be treated with care.
Talk to your denturist about your oral health problems
Denturists are dental professionals who specialize in dentures and denture-related oral health problems. At Borbely Swiss, we custom-make Winnipeg dentures, but we also help our patients for the long term, ensuring they know how to care for their dentures, repairing any damage, and, of course, treating any denture-related oral health problems.
Denture stomatitis is both simple to treat and simple to prevent. We hope that this article has helped you understand one of the most common denture-related illnesses – and how to avoid getting it in the first place!