Denture stomatitis is characterized by inflamed, puffy, red tissue that follows the outline of a denture or other dental appliance that rests against the oral mucosa. Sometimes the swollen tissue is accompanied by pin-points of bleeding. Fortunately, denture stomatitis is not life-threatening or a condition that can be passed onto others.
Denture stomatitis is a very common condition. So much so that it is not unusual for patients to have it without even realizing it. In fact, patients are often taken by surprise when a dental professional talks to them about having denture stomatitis during a routine oral exam. Since many patients are completely asymptomatic, they fail to understand the importance of changing their routine even after diagnosis. Read on to learn about the causes of denture stomatitis and more.
Denture Stomatitis a Fungal Infection
Denture-induced stomatitis is the result of a yeast infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen found as part of the normal microflora in the human digestive tract. This variety is one of approximately 200 different species of Candida. Candida albicans account for up to 75% of all Candida infections. It is the same fungus that also causes thrush.
How Common Is Denture Stomatitis?
Candida is present in everyone’s mouth, and it usually causes no problems. However, it’s the overpopulation of Candida in the mouth that actually causes the symptoms of denture stomatitis. Epidemiological studies report the prevalence of denture stomatitis among denture wearers ranges anywhere from 15% to over 70%, depending upon the age of study participants. Elderly patients and nursing home patients tend to have a higher incidence of the condition.
Who Can Get Denture Stomatitis?
Anyone who wears dentures, partials, or orthodontic retainers where a portion of the oral tissue spends the majority of the time covered by the dental appliance can experience denture-induced stomatitis.
Patients with underlying health issues such as medication-induced dry mouth, diabetes, or immune suppression (i.e., cancer patients) have an increased susceptibility to opportunistic fungal overgrowth.
What Are the Causes of Denture Stomatitis?
Candida species seem to have a particular binding affinity to the rough acrylic surfaces of dentures. In addition, dentures that don’t fit properly can cause trauma that damages the tissue, making it more prone to infection.
Poor hygiene –– not removing all of the bacteria and debris formed on denture and tissue surfaces with daily brushing –– allows the normal fungus to multiply and get out of control. Finally, wearing dentures 24/7 dramatically increases the risk of contracting denture stomatitis.
How Do You Treat Denture Stomatitis?
Primary denture stomatitis treatment involves the removal of dentures while sleeping and thorough cleaning of the dental appliances using a mechanical means to completely eliminate plaque and debris build-up.
For long-standing cases of denture stomatitis, the dentist may prescribe topical antifungal medications to apply to the denture-fitting surface and the oral mucosa. Oral antifungals can offer temporary relief of symptoms and reduce fungal count, providing an environment for the tissue to heal.
The best way to prevent denture stomatitis is to make removing your dentures before you go to sleep a habit. Your oral mucosa needs to be exposed to the air and to saliva that helps wash away bacteria and reduces the number of normal fungi present in your mouth.
Your dentures are a breeding ground for microorganisms and must be cleaned daily. The best way to accomplish this is to use a soft-bristle denture brush with liquid soap or a paste made especially for cleaning dentures to mechanically remove plaque and film that can lead to stomatitis.