In the past, dentures were the primary method of treating this condition. But did you know that these common dental appliances carry an increased risk of oral infection?
It’s true: There are several ways that dentures (and other removable appliances) can promote oral infections. Wearing any type of denture may lead to an overabundance of fungi or yeasts, which may thrive in the porous bases of the dentures, or in the areas between dentures and gums. Partial dentures that don’t fit correctly can also trap periodontal infection below the gums. Let’s look at a few examples of denture-related infections – and one very good way to avoid them.
A Mouth Out of Balance
Microorganisms are present everywhere – but when they start to grow out of control, disease can result. Cheilosis and stomatitis are two examples of infections caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. These may lead to painful inflammation, cracking at the corners of the mouth, redness and soreness – or occasionally, no symptoms at all. But once they’ve become established, disease-causing microorganisms (like Candida albicans, for example) don’t usually go away on their own. Getting rid of them may involve taking powerful antifungal medications.
In order to prevent periodontal infections, partial denture-wearers must remove their appliances after every meal, and clean any remaining teeth and gums thoroughly before putting them back. It also means not wearing the dentures at night, and routinely soaking them in disinfectant solutions because the acrylics found in many dentures are perfect places for fungi to grow. Understandably, many denture-wearers find this process burdensome. But unless it’s faithfully kept up, the risk of contracting a variety of potential infections remains.
When Dentures Don’t Fit
Similar problems may result from loose or poorly fitting complete dentures. A moist, dark, sheltered environment – like the small gap between dentures and gums – can provide an ideal space for fungal growth. Because dentures inevitably become looser as the underlying bone deteriorates, this problem tends to increase over time. But there’s another, potentially more serious problem with ill-fitting dentures.
When removable partial dentures are worn, they can place pressure on the gum tissue next to the anchoring teeth, which tends to compress the tissue. If there is any periodontal infection present – and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of Americans aged 30 or older have the gum disease called periodontitis – it can become trapped below the gum line. This can result in painful and potentially serious complications like abscess or systemic inflammation, as well as an increased rate of bone loss.
A Better Solution
Once upon a time, complete or partial dentures – with all their drawbacks – were the only real solution to missing teeth. Today, dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement. Not only do they feel and function just like natural teeth – they’re also better for your overall health. They don’t create an environment that’s favorable to fungal growth, they resist tartar buildup and they don’t decay. Plus, they look fantastic. So why settle for less?