Ill-fitting dentures can cause a lot of problems inside your mouth. They can make your gums swollen and sore, they can cause blisters inside your mouth, and they can lead to cracking and swelling at the corners of your mouth. The latter problem is known as cheilosis. Here are four things you need to know about this painful and unattractive complication of dentures.
What are the signs of cheilosis?
If you have cheilosis, also known as cheilitis, you'll notice that one or both corners of your mouth are cracked and sore. The area may be swollen or red. The skin at the corners of your mouth may look scaly and dry, and the area may bleed. Cheilosis can also lead to the formation of ulcers, open sores that heal slowly, at the corners of the mouth.
How do dentures cause cheilosis?
The main cause of cheilosis is Candida albicans, a type of fungus. This fungus is naturally present in about four-fifths of the population, and for most people, it's not a problem. If the fungus gets the opportunity to overgrow, it leads to problems like cheilosis.
Ill-fitting dentures can help create the perfect environment for the fungus to thrive. If your dentures don't fit well, you may drool, and this excess saliva will keep the corners of your mouth moist enough for fungus to grow. Other factors, like excess skin at the corners of your mouth, may also play a role, as these saliva-moistened folds of skin provide a good place for fungus to hide and grow.
Not cleaning your dentures thoroughly also allows the fungus to thrive. You need to clean your dentures every day. You should use a disinfecting solution that will kill any fungus that is present; your dentist can recommend a good product if you're not sure what to use.
How can your dentist help?
First, your dentist will check the fit of your dentures. Your dentures fit properly when you first get them, but over the years, your gums and bones shrink, and this allows the dentures to become loose. If the dentist discovers that this is the case for you, the dentures will be adjusted. This process may involve relining or rebasing the dentures. To do this, your dentist will replace the underside of the dentures so that they fit your gums better.
If your dentures can't be adjusted, they may need to be replaced. If this is the case, your dentist will take an impression of your mouth and have a dental laboratory make you a new pair of dentures. Getting new dentures has been shown to be an effective treatment for elderly people with cheilosis.
Adjusting or replacing your dentures may not be enough on its own, and your dentist may need to use medications to treat the fungal overgrowth. You'll be given an antifungal cream to apply to the corners of your mouth. Your dentist may tell you to apply the cream to your dentures as well. Make sure to use the fungal medication as directed by your dentist since this condition tends to recur if it's not treated properly.
Is cheilosis common?
This condition is fairly common. It makes up between 0.7% and 3.8% of oral lesions in adults and is most often seen in people in their thirties, fifties, and sixties.
If you wear dentures and have cracked, painful skin at the corners of your mouth, you may be suffering from cheilosis. You should make an appointment with your dentist right away. If you have cheilosis, your dentist can treat you by adjusting or replacing your dentures, and you should look and feel like your old self in no time. You can also continue here to learn more.