Denture stomatitis is a condition that affect denture wearers, normally because they’re not cleaning their dentures regularly and wearing them through the night. Although it’s not dangerous, if left untreated it can ruin the fit of your dentures and may require surgery to correct.

What Is Denture Stomatitis?

Denture stomatitis is a minor infection related to your dentures that irritates your gums. It’s possible you’ll experience discomfort, pain, bleeding, or a relatively sudden change in the fit of your dentures. Normally, though, unless you regularly inspect your gums, it’s your dentist who will notice the stomatitis first–because of the bright red color of your gums under your dentures.

What Causes Denture Stomatitis?

Denture stomatitis is almost always related to a Candida species of fungus. These fungi live in pretty much everyone’s mouth, but they’re normally harmless. Under unusual conditions they can grow out of control, causing candidiasis or thrush–so denture stomatitis is basically the same infection that can plague babies.

Normally, proper cleaning of your dentures will keep the Candida population in your mouth under control. But if you’re not cleaning your dentures properly, especially not soaking them overnight, the fungus will multiply and cause problems.

Why and How Denture Stomatitis Is Treated

Normally, treatment of denture stomatitis is easy: just take up proper care of your dentures. Thorough cleaning of your dentures and gums will usually get denture stomatitis under control without further intervention. If it doesn’t, you may be prescribed an anti-fungal mouthwash (typically chemical, but natural alternatives are on the way).

If denture stomatitis isn’t treated, though, it can result in epithelial papillary hyperplasia, which is when your gum tissue can swell. This can change the shape of your mouth and make it hard or impossible for your dentures to fit. If epithelial papillary hyperplasia goes untreated too long, it won’t subside when your denture stomatitis does, and therefore require surgery to treat.

But with proper care, denture stomatitis is rare, and dentures will usually give you a very good experience with few side effects if they’re properly fitted.