Denture stomatitis symptoms, causes, & treatment

Denture stomatitis, also known as denture-related stomatitis or oral candidiasis, is a common condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the oral tissues underneath dentures.

It predominantly affects individuals who wear removable dentures, such as full or partial dentures. This condition can cause discomfort, redness, and other symptoms that adversely affect your oral health and overall well-being.

As such, recognizing the symptoms and addressing this condition promptly can help to alleviate discomfort, prevent complications, and ensure the longevity of your dentures.

Symptoms of Denture Stomatitis

  • Redness and Swelling of Oral Tissues

One of the primary symptoms of denture stomatitis is the presence of redness and swelling in the oral tissues that come into contact with the dentures. This inflammation can extend to the gums, palate, and other areas, causing discomfort and sensitivity.

  • Discomfort or Soreness in the Affected Area

Individuals with denture stomatitis often experience discomfort or soreness in the areas where the dentures rest. This can range from a mild irritation to more pronounced pain, making it uncomfortable to wear the dentures.

  • White or Red Patches on the Palate or Gum Tissue

Another common symptom is the appearance of white or red patches on the oral mucosa, particularly on the palate or gum tissue. These patches may be indicative of an underlying fungal infection, such as Candida, which contributes to the development of denture stomatitis.

  • Unpleasant Taste or Bad Breath

Denture stomatitis can also lead to an unpleasant taste in the mouth or persistent bad breath. This is often associated with the presence of oral yeast or bacteria, which thrive in the warm and moist environment created by ill-fitting or unclean dentures.

Causes of Denture Stomatitis

a. Poor Oral Hygiene (Insufficient Cleaning of Dentures)

Inadequate cleaning of dentures is a major contributor to the development of denture stomatitis. When dentures are not cleaned properly, plaque, bacteria, and yeast can accumulate on their surface, leading to inflammation and infection of the oral tissues.

b. Improper Denture Fit

Improperly fitted or worn dentures can create areas of pressure and friction on the underlying oral tissues, increasing the risk of denture stomatitis. Ill-fitting dentures may cause continuous irritation, impairing the natural protective mechanisms of the oral mucosa.

c. Fungal Infection (Candida Albicans)

Denture stomatitis is often associated with the overgrowth of Candida albicans, a type of yeast that naturally resides in the oral cavity. However, under certain conditions, such as compromised immune function or poor oral hygiene, Candida can proliferate, leading to an imbalance and subsequent infection.

Several factors contribute to the overgrowth of Candida, including:

  • Prolonged denture use
  • Inadequate denture cleaning
  • Systemic diseases (e.g., diabetes)
  • Immune system deficiencies
  • The use of certain medications (e.g., antibiotics or corticosteroids).

These factors create an environment conducive to Candida overgrowth, increasing the risk of denture stomatitis.

Treatment of Denture Stomatitis

1. Improving Oral Hygiene Practices

Proper denture hygiene is essential for the management of denture stomatitis.

  • Cleaning your dentures properlyDentures should be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis using a denture brush and mild non-abrasive cleanser. This helps remove plaque, bacteria, calcium buildup, and yeast, reducing the risk of infection and inflammation.
  • Good oral hygiene: In addition to denture cleaning, it is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene for natural teeth and gums. Regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing can help prevent the spread of infection and maintain overall oral health.

2. Antifungal Medications and Topical Treatments

  • Antifungal Mouth Rinse or Gel: In cases where Candida infection is present, dentists may prescribe antifungal mouth rinses or gels to combat the fungal overgrowth. These medications are applied topically to the affected areas, helping to reduce inflammation and control the growth of Candida.
  • Prescription Antifungal Medications: For more severe or persistent cases of denture stomatitis, dentists may prescribe oral antifungal medications. These medications are taken systemically to target the underlying fungal infection, effectively treating the condition.

3. Denture Maintenance and Adjustments

  • Regular Denture Cleaning and Soaking: Regular cleaning and soaking of dentures are essential to prevent the recurrence of denture stomatitis. Dentures should be cleaned thoroughly using denture cleaners or mild soapy water. Additionally, dentures should be soaked overnight to ensure proper disinfection and to maintain their shape and function.
  • Denture Relining or Replacement, if Necessary: In some cases, ill-fitting or worn-out dentures may contribute to the development of denture stomatitis. Denture relining or replacement may be recommended to improve the fit and comfort of the dentures, reducing the risk of irritation and inflammation.

Tips to Prevent Denture Stomatitis

Proper Denture Cleaning Techniques

Adopting proper denture cleaning techniques is crucial in preventing denture stomatitis. Dentures should be cleaned thoroughly after each meal, using a denture brush and non-abrasive cleanser. Additionally, dentures should be removed at night and cleaned before placing them back in the mouth.

Regular Brushing of Natural Teeth and Gums

Maintaining regular brushing and flossing routines for natural teeth and gums is equally important. This helps prevent the spread of infection and maintains overall oral health.

Cleaning Dentures Daily

Daily cleaning of dentures is essential for preventing the accumulation of plaque, bacteria, and yeast. Dentures should be cleaned using gentle brushing and appropriate denture cleaners recommended by dental professionals.

Soaking Dentures Overnight

Overnight soaking of dentures is important to maintain their cleanliness and prevent the growth of microorganisms. Dentures should be soaked in a denture cleansing solution or plain water to ensure proper disinfection.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Regular dental check-ups are crucial for the early detection and management of denture stomatitis. Dentists can assess the condition of dentures, provide professional cleaning, and address any concerns or symptoms.

Consulting a Dentist for Persistent Symptoms

If symptoms of denture stomatitis persist despite proper oral hygiene practices, it is important to consult a dentist for further evaluation and treatment. Dentists can determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate measures to manage the condition effectively.

Final Thoughts

By being aware of the symptoms and understanding the underlying causes, denture wearers can take proactive measures to prevent and manage denture stomatitis effectively. Good oral hygiene practices, which include regular cleaning of dentures, proper brushing of natural teeth and gums, and routine dental check-ups play a vital role in preventing the condition and maintaining overall oral health.

It’s also important to seek professional dental care for timely diagnosing and treating oral conditions, including denture stomatitis. They can provide personalized treatment plans, prescribe appropriate medications, and offer valuable guidance on denture care and maintenance.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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