What is denture stomatitis (Thrush)?

Denture stomatitis is caused by a yeast or fungus called candida. It is not an infection that we get or pass on to others, because we all have some candida in our mouths. Thrush can appear in other parts of the body, but when it affects the mouth it may be called ‘denture stomatitis’.

Who can get denture stomatitis?

Denture wearers are most likely to be affected, along with people who have problems keeping their mouth clean. Diabetics and anyone who takes steroids, either through inhalers or by mouth, may also have problems.

Some antibiotics are responsible for causing thrush. Many people find that taking certain antibiotics encourages the infection to come back, especially if taken over a long period of time.

How can the dentist recognise it?

When the denture is taken out, your dental team may be able to see a very red area under the denture. There may also be red sore areas at the corner of the lips.

Why does denture stomatitis need treatment?

If untreated, the condition can cause soreness in the mouth and may lead to poorly fitting dentures in the future.

How is denture stomatitis treated?

  • Good oral hygiene – It is important to keep your mouth as clean as possible and rinse your mouth and dentures after meals. Smoking encourages the growth of further yeast infections.
  • Keeping your dentures as clean as possible – Keep your dentures out of your mouth as much as possible, and definitely overnight. Some yeast infections will clear up completely if you don’t wear your dentures at night for two weeks.

    To clean your dentures, the general rule is: brush and soak every day. Brush your dentures first, to help remove any bits of food. Use a non-abrasive denture cleaner, not toothpaste. Be careful not to scrub too hard as this may cause grooves in the surface.

    Make sure you brush all the surfaces of the dentures, including the surface that fits against your gums. This is especially important if you use any kind of denture fixative.

    Soak your dentures every day in a denture-cleaning solution. This will help remove any plaque and stubborn stains that are left. It will also help to disinfect your dentures, leaving them feeling fresher. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

    If your denture has metal parts, do not use anything that contains bleach, but use chlorhexidine instead. Do not use chlorhexidine every day as it will stain your denture. Use it once a week.

  • Medication – If good oral hygiene and careful cleaning have not helped, you will be given some treatment. There are many treatments available, most of them involving sucking tablets or lozenges slowly in your mouth. You may need to continue the treatment for one month.

What happens next?

The dental team may want to check your mouth after treatment to make sure that everything has cleared up. If it hasn’t, they may recommend extra treatment. In some cases you may need to treat your mouth for a long time.

It is important to have new dentures made every few years. Even if you do not have any teeth left it is important for you to go to your dental team for regular check-ups to make sure that your mouth stays healthy.

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