Dentures can be a good way to replace missing teeth, but they can also expose the wearer to some issues. Oral thrush is one such issue which is more likely to occur with dentures, but this can be prevented. Let’s take a look at what denture-related thrush is, and how to prevent it.
What is Denture-Related Oral Thrush?
Denture-related oral thrush, also called denture-related stomatitis, is a fungal infection caused by the Candida species of yeast and the over-wearing or under-maintenance of dentures. There are some important differences between regular oral thrush, also called oral candidiasis, and denture-related oral thrush, or denture-related stomatitis. Denture-related stomatitis is often, but not always, caused by Candida, for example, and the symptoms are a bit different, which we’ll discuss more in the next section. However, these two conditions are similar enough that they are both considered types of oral thrush.
Symptoms of Denture-Related Oral Thrush
The most notable symptoms of oral candidiasis are white lesions. White lesions are also a symptom of denture-related oral thrush, but redness, irritation, and swelling in the mouth occurs first. These first symptoms are not always noticed, and in fact as many as 70% of denture-wearers have this condition, many without noticing it. Later symptoms include soreness in the mouth or throat, pain or discomfort when swallowing, and sores or cracks in the corner of the mouth.
How to Treat and Prevent Denture-Related Oral Thrush
One of the first and most important ways to treat and prevent denture-related oral thrush, or denture stomatitis, is to detect it. Since it often goes undetected, it’s important to regularly visit the dentist, and check yourself for symptoms of denture stomatitis and take action on any changes in your mouth.
As the name implies, wearing dentures is a significant factor in developing denture-related oral thrush. Dentures create a moist environment that helps the Candida microbe and other microbes grow. Contact with sugars and starches also encourage microbes to grow and spread. These things together make dentures an ideal environment for microbial colonies, especially if they aren’t cleaned frequently and diligently.
Dentures, especially those that don’t fit properly, can also cause irritation on the gums, which can make denture stomatitis worse. This gives the fungus and bacteria that grow on the dentures access points to infect the gums, cheeks, or tongue, especially if the skin is broken.
Other factors can also increase the risk of developing denture-related oral thrush. Some factors reduce the body’s ability to fight infection, and other factors make it easier for microbes to multiply. Habits or conditions that affect your immune system or increase dry mouth, for example, will make it more difficult to fight off Candida and other microorganisms causing denture stomatitis.
With this in mind, the following can help you prevent denture-related oral thrush.
- Taking dentures out at night
- Putting dentures in a cleaning solution nightly
- Brushing dentures daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Visiting the dentist twice a year to detect signs of denture stomatitis and make sure your dentures fit properly
- Refitting dentures as-needed
- Avoiding excessive sugars and starches, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding cigarettes, vaping, and tobacco products
- Reducing alcohol intake
How to Treat Denture-Related Oral Thrush
If you do detect signs of oral thrush or you think you may have signs of denture stomatitis, there are many things you can do to treat this condition. The best way to diagnose and treat denture-related oral thrush is to visit your dentist. Your dentist can swab your mouth and test the swab to detect Candida microbes. If the test shows that you have denture-related oral thrush, your dentist can provide anti-fungal medication and other measures to treat the condition, especially if it is advanced.
Often, mild cases of denture-related oral thrush can be treated at home. If you notice early signs of denture-related oral thrush, cleaning your dentures diligently, and taking your dentures out at night can help. If your dentures don’t fit properly and cause irritation, consider getting a new set.
If you take your dentures out at night and maintain regular cleaning, but you still notice symptoms of denture-related oral thrush, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. If you are located in the Las Vegas area and you’re concerned about denture-related oral thrush, or your dentures aren’t fitting properly, make an appointment with a local BDG office.