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What is Denture Stomatitis?

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Dentures being cleaned with a toothbrush with dental instruments on the side.

Whether you have a set of complete dentures or partial dentures, taking proper care of your dentures is important in maintaining strong oral health. If not maintained, you are at risk of developing denture stomatitis, an infection to which all denture wearers are prone. 

But what exactly is denture stomatitis? 

Denture stomatitis is the inflammation of your gum tissue caused by bacteria (Candida). Candida is typically present in our mouths. However, if it continues to build up in your dentures, the levels could be dangerous and harmful to your oral health. 

Causes of Denture Stomatitis

If you wear dentures, you are at risk of denture stomatitis. Every time you place your dentures in your mouth, you are allowing them to collect Candida and other bacterias that are moving through your mouth. The collection of this bacteria is normal and nothing to be concerned about (if they’re cleaned correctly). 

However, the collecting of Candida is where the concern lies. If you put your dentures in your mouth every morning (loaded with Candida), you are putting your gums in danger and have a high chance of developing denture stomatitis. The bacteria will continue to build in your mouth throughout the day and continue to harm your gums. This bacteria will then create uncomfortable feelings in and around your gums if left uncleaned. 

Symptoms of Denture Stomatitis

The symptoms of denture stomatitis might start mild, but they will quickly escalate, causing larger problems. If you catch denture stomatitis early, you will have wider options for treatment! Looking out for early symptoms is an easy way to identify if you are suffering from denture stomatitis. 

Symptoms include:

  • Soreness in the mouth 
  • Dentures fitting poorly 
  • Swelling 
  • Bad breath 

If you are experiencing the symptoms above, check your gums when you remove your dentures. If your gums are red, there is a chance you are experiencing denture stomatitis. Please start treatment right away if this is the case. 

Dentist explaining proper cleaning regime for dentures to elder man.

Risk if Left Untreated 

To put your mind at ease, denture stomatitis is not a serious condition. However, it should be treated correctly and properly avoided. If denture stomatitis is left untreated, there is potential for larger medical issues, such as inflammatory papillary epithelial hyperplasia

These risks could involve surgery and greater pain than was first experienced with denture stomatitis. It is best to stay ahead of the possible symptoms and long-term effects by taking proactive action by properly cleaning your dentures every day. 

Denture Stomatitis Treatments and Protection 

Good Oral Hygiene 

It may seem obvious, but maintaining good oral hygiene cannot only prevent denture stomatitis, but it can treat it too! This means not allowing food and drinks to settle in your mouth after meals. Rinsing your mouth and dentures with water after a meal is an easy way to keep them clean and protected. 

Following the same rules that you would with teeth, regular cleaning can make a big difference with your oral hygiene. Not allowing your mouth to accumulate bacteria from leftover food is one of the best defences against denture stomatitis.  

Keeping Your Dentures Clean 

This is one we cannot stress enough, clean your dentures. This is a process that you cannot overdo either. Cleaning your dentures overnight is a must. To clean your dentures correctly, they must first be brushed with a denture cleaner. Although it works on regular teeth, do not use toothpaste, as it is too strong and will scratch the dentures over time. 

After thoroughly brushing the dentures, immerse them in a safe sterilizing solution. When selecting a sterilizing solution, it is best to use chlorhexidine (for full and partial dentures) and sodium hypochlorite (for full dentures). 

In addition to frequently cleaning your dentures, removing them often can make a big difference. If you don’t need to be wearing your dentures, take them out to give your mouth a break. If you have already developed denture stomatitis, giving your mouth a break is a great way to support recovery. Taking out your dentures for a break will also give you another chance to clean them… 

Medication 

If you are following the two treatments above correctly and they aren’t working, simple medication can be applied to help. Although medication tends to be the last resort when dealing with denture stomatitis, it is a painless and effective treatment. Most treatments involve consuming lozenges.

Avoiding Denture Stomatitis

Although all denture wearers are at risk of developing denture stomatitis, it can be easily avoided and treated. Taking a proactive approach is important in protecting your oral health and your overall general health. 

While it might take extra time to properly clean your dentures and your mouth, it is the same as maintaining any other aspects of your health. Looking to learn more about dentures and our services? Book a consultation now! 

Written by Wade Klimpke

Wade Klimpke is a past President and long-standing member of the College of Alberta Denturists. Wade leads a number of industry working groups which help advance and monitor old, current, and new industry developments. This has allowed him to gain a number of industry relationships with implant dentistry suppliers in Canada and the United States.
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