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Tackling denture discomfort: hygiene measures for sore mouth relief 
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Tackling denture discomfort: hygiene measures for sore mouth relief 

Dentures should be replaced after five years of use, says study
Denture sore mouth
Denture | Representational Image | Shutterstock

G Selvaraj, 80, from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu has experienced tooth loss and now relies on dentures for eating and speaking. “I had red pinpoint lesions on the palate and gums,” says Selvaraj. He had been using the same dentures for over a decade.  This condition is referred to as denture sore mouth.

On his visit to the dentist, he came to know that the lesions were due to the continuous use of dentures. Moreover, the denture was ill-fitting. The dentist prescribed an ointment and recommended Selvaraj to replace his dentures. As a precautionary measure, the dentist asked him to remove them before sleeping.

Moreover, the dentist advised Selvaraj to clean his dentures and mouth after every meal. “I have replaced my dentures and started to clean them regularly,” says Selvaraj. Following the oral care routine helped him to get rid of the lesions and improve his oral health.

When to replace dentures

Dentures are the removable replacement for missing teeth, but prolonged use can cause denture sore mouth. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, dentures should be replaced after five years of use. In addition, it should also be replaced in case of discolouration in the dentures, ill-fitting dentures, or when the individual faces difficulty in eating with the dentures.

Discomfort in the mouth

Denture sore mouth commonly affects the upper palate and gums. It appears as a red, inflamed, and puffy soft tissue beneath the denture. In mild cases, the individual will not have pain, whereas, in severe cases, one may have discomfort or tingling sensation in the gums and palate.

Dr M S Sathya Shankar, associate professor, Department of Prosthodontics from Nandha Dental College, Erode, Tamil Nadu, says, “Some people may have wounds in the corner of their lips.”

Potential triggers

Dr Yamuna Shivananda, dentist from Perth, Western Australia, says, “In many individuals, the denture sore mouth is usually caused by fungal infections. They have white patches on the gums and palate.”

A 2022 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, shows that prolonged use of dentures, poor oral hygiene, and weakened immune system are the predisposing factors for fungal infection.  “Diabetic individuals, asthmatic individuals using inhalers, smoking, and intake of oral steroids for the long-term leads to denture sore mouth,” says Dr Shivananda.

Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2023 says that conditions like dry mouth, nutritional deficiency, long-term use of antibiotics, sensitivity to denture materials like acrylic resin (plastic), consuming carbohydrate-rich diets, and blood disorders result in denture sore mouth.

Early diagnosis

Regular dental checkups and early management reduce the severity of the condition. “Denture sore mouth is not life-threatening and is not transmitted from one person to another,” says Dr Shivananda. Many individuals with denture sore mouth are unaware of the symptoms. It is either found by chance or during routine dental examinations, she adds.

“Denture sore mouth is a localised condition. However, if the immune system is weak, the fungal infection may spread to other parts of the body,” says Dr Shankar.

Oral hygiene measures

Dr Shivananda and Dr Shankar recommend the following to manage denture sore mouth:

  • Keep the mouth and denture clean. If the denture is not cleaned properly, the bacteria may produce yellow deposits over it.
  • Clean the inner and outer surface with soap water and a soft brush. Avoid using soap with fragrance because it may cause nausea when the denture is worn. Do not use household bleaching powders for cleaning the denture as it damages the quality of the denture.
  • Remove the dentures at night. It aids in relaxing the gums and bones from the pressure produced by dentures during the daytime.
  • Store the dentures in a bowl of room-temperature water. Change the water every day. Since dentures are made up of plastic-like material, avoid keeping the dentures in hot water or boiling water as it deforms the shape.
  • Clean the tongue every day using a tongue scraper to prevent fungal infections from spreading.
  • Avoid wearing dentures for more than 24 hours without brushing.
  • Antifungal mouthwash helps in managing the issue temporarily.
  • If the condition progresses, the dentist may prescribe an anti-fungal medication for healing.

Consult a dentist when you notice any symptoms related to denture sore mouth.

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