Denture stomatitis causes redness, swelling and tenderness in the mouth. While the condition is most common among denture wearers, it can affect anyone. You can reduce your risk for oral stomatitis by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly.
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.
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As the name suggests, people who wear dentures may be at risk for developing denture stomatitis. The condition can also affect:
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.
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.
People with denture stomatitis may develop varying symptoms. Some of the most common include:
There are several factors that can result in the development of denture stomatitis. Some of the most common causes include:
Other risk factors include:
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.
Generally, oral stomatitis is diagnosed during a dental examination. Your dentist can tell if you have the condition based on the pattern of redness in your mouth. They may also swab your mouth and submit the sample to a pathology lab to confirm your diagnosis.
There are a few different treatment options for people with oral stomatitis:
In addition, your dentist will clean, polish and glaze your denture to prevent micro-organisms from contaminating your appliance. They’ll also check your bite and make any necessary adjustments. In some instances, a new denture may be necessary.
Prompt dental treatment will help reduce painful symptoms and promote healing. However, proper denture care at home is essential for long-term oral health. Here are some recommendations for managing your symptoms:
Healing times can vary from person to person. However, most people feel better within two weeks of starting treatment.
The best way to prevent oral stomatitis is to practice excellent oral hygiene. Brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day and swish with an antimicrobial mouthwash. You should also avoid smoking, as it can increase your risk for oral infections. Finally, be sure to take your dentures out for at least eight hours every day (such as when you’re sleeping). This will give your tissues a rest and prevent denture sores from developing. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about teeth and gum care.
It’s normal for people with dentures to experience gum irritation from time to time. However, if you notice red, swollen or patchy areas, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. They can rule out more serious issues and design a personalized treatment plan to help you feel better.
Though traditional dentures effectively restore your appearance, they may not fully restore function. For example, they can shift, slip or wobble when eating or speaking. Many people also develop sore gums from dentures. If you want to upgrade your dentures, ask your dentist about dental implants — threaded posts that replace missing teeth roots. Dental implants can be restored with crowns, bridges or dentures. Implant-supported dentures provide additional stability and reduce the risk of many oral health problems, including denture stomatitis.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Denture stomatitis can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to treat the condition and reduce your risk for future flare-ups. If you think you’re developing oral stomatitis, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible so you can receive the treatment you need and deserve.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/19/2021.
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