Denture Stomatitis—What it Is & What You Can Do

Getting adjusted to dentures can take some time, and mild discomfort is to be expected during the first stages for wearers. However, infection is not a normal outcome for denture wearers, and one such infection, denture stomatitis, can be partially-debilitating. As a result, some denture wearers suffering from denture stomatitis will avoid using their dentures and be unable to enjoy the full use of their appliance. Fortunately, there are treatment options for individuals with denture stomatitis, including some new herbal options, and you can read more about them below.

What exactly is denture stomatitis?

Denture stomatitis is an illness caused by an outbreak of Candida albicans, a fungal organism that inhabits the human mouth. This fungus, which is a type of yeast, ordinarily causes no symptoms in the mouths of healthy individuals. However, in the case of denture wearers, the yeast can colonize on the appliances themselves and result in an infection of the oral tissues beneath the denture. This infection appears visible as a bright red swelling in the gums and rest of the mouth, with occasional bleeding.

While denture stomatitis is usually a painless illness, it can still be upsetting to denture wearers and may interfere with the proper fit of the appliance. In addition, denture stomatitis can lead to a secondary yeast infection, chelitis, which is painful skin cracking around the lips and corner of the mouth.

Preventing denture stomatitis

As with most illnesses, prevention of denture stomatitis is the best option. There are several things denture wearers can do to keep the disease at bay:

Remove and clean dentures nightly—Unless recommended otherwise by your dentist, dentures should always be removed in the evening before bed and cleaned. You can clean them using a soft toothbrush as well as soaking them in a commercially-available denture cleaning solution.

Sterilize your dentures on occasion—While it isn't necessary to sterilize your dentures on an every night basis, your dentist may recommend sterilization in certain cases of denture stomatitis. A proven, safe means of sterilizing your non-metallic dentures is to place them inside a microwave oven-safe container filled with water along with a denture cleansing tablet, then microwaving them for two minutes. Be sure to allow the dentures to cool down before placing in your mouth.

This method will not damage your dentures as long as you do not exceed two minutes of heating, and never place dentures containing metal in the microwave. If you do have a pair of dentures with metal components, you can sterilize them effectively by soaking them in a solution of chlorhexidine. Ask your dentist for information on where to obtain chlorhexidine; however, be careful not to use chlorhexidine on a frequent basis, as it can stain your dentures.

Maintain your oral hygiene—Keeping your own oral hygiene at an optimal level is also important in preventing denture stomatitis. Since many denture wearers are often older, there is an increased risk of dry mouth and other related problems that can contribute to diseases like denture stomatitis. Using dentist-recommended mouthwashes, brushing, even if you have no teeth of your own, and keeping regular appointments with your dentist are effective in preventing denture stomatitis.

Treating denture stomatitis

Despite best efforts at prevention, it is still possible for denture wearers to develop a case of denture stomatitis. If you happen to one of those afflicted, below are several treatment options that can help:

Medicinal treatment options—Dentists can prescribe antifungal oral lozenges that can kill Candida albicans, and they may also recommend applying antifungal creams to your dentures. If your dentist prescribes a medication for your denture stomatitis, be sure to continue the regimen for the full duration recommended; cutting it short, even if you think the symptoms are gone, can allow the condition to flare-up again.

Herbal option—A promising treatment option is the use of Uncaria tomentosa, an herb also known as Cat's Claw. Recent research demonstrated its effectiveness in rapidly healing denture stomatitis when applied as a gel to the oral tissues as directed by a dentist. Be sure to ask your dentist about using Cat's Claw as a possible option.

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