Denture Stomatitis

Updated: Sep 02, 2015
  • Author: James J Sciubba, DMD, PhD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Denture stomatitis is a common oral mucosal lesion in the United States and Western Europe. Prevalence rates of 2.5-18.3% in adults aged 35-44 years or 65-74 years are reported, with a predominance in the latter age group. [1, 2] Although patient age and denture quality alone do not predispose individuals this mucosal condition, the odds of developing stomatitis, denture-related hyperplasia, and angular cheilitis are increased almost 3-fold in denture wearers. [3] Studies indicate that correlations may exist with the amount of tissue coverage by a maxillary denture, vitamin A levels, smoking of cigarettes, and not removing dentures. [4]



Mucosal factors have been implicated in the etiology of this condition, as have behavioral and manner-of-use factors in patients who wear complete dentures. In these patients, the nighttime wear of the prosthetic appliance is the most significant factor. [5, 6]

Although the dominant etiologic factor now appears to be fungal infection, other factors must be considered; these include the prosthetic device itself and also local and systemic factors in patients who are aging and edentulous. The extent of inflammation has been correlated with the presence of yeast colonizing the denture surface. [7] Trauma has been shown to have a role in the production of basement membrane alterations involving expression of type IV collagen and laminin (alpha 1), thus indicating a possible relationship between these elements and denture stomatitis. [8] Regarding the prosthesis-related factor, an allergy in the form of contact mucositis is suggested. This reaction may be related to the presence of resin monomers, hydroquinone peroxide, dimethyl-p -toluidine, or methacrylate in the denture. Furthermore, contact sensitivities such as this one are more common with cold or autocured resins than with heat-cured denture-base materials.

Candida species have been identified in most patients [9, 10] or in all patients, [11] with Candida albicans being the predominant species isolated in addition to many other candidal species. [12] Whether the organism is merely commensal in this situation remains an issue because of the frequency of such organisms in the general population; the role of this organism as the sole etiologic factor in denture stomatitis is unclear; however, the presence of candidal organisms within the overall biofilm lends credence to its role in the development and maintenance of denture stomatitis. [13] The etiology is best considered multifactorial, with the prosthesis considered the prime etiologic factor. The character of biofilm communities of denture wearers, however, has been shown to be distinctive when compared with healthy non – denture-wearing individuals. [14]

Related Medscape Reference articles include Noncandidal Fungal Infections of the Mouth and Mucosal Candidiasis.




United States

The exact prevalence of denture stomatitis is unknown, but it appears to be 2.5-18.3% among adults. The disease is common in elderly persons, especially those living in nursing home facilities. Findings from several studies suggest that denture stomatitis develops in as many as 35-50% of persons who wear complete dentures. [15, 16]


Denture stomatitis is a common oral mucosal lesion in Western Europe, Thailand, and Turkey. [17, 18]


No racial predilection is recognized.


Sex-related frequencies differ among studies; therefore, no clear sex predilection is apparent.


The disease is more common in elderly persons than in young persons because elderly persons are more likely to wear dentures and because their level of oral and denture hygiene is reduced. In addition, age-related chronic disease (eg, type 2 diabetes mellitus), iatrogenic drugs, and age-associated immunocompromise contribute to this risk level.